\ ˈthret How to pronounce threat (audio) \

Definition of threat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage
2 : one that threatens
3 : an indication of something impending the sky held a threat of rain


threated; threating; threats

Definition of threat (Entry 2 of 2)


Examples of threat in a Sentence

Noun He was willing to use violence and threats to get what he wanted. She ignored their threats and continued to do what she felt was right. a country under threat of civil war
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The concept had some skeptics on social media, many of whom worried about double-dippers and the idea of communal-style eating while covid remains a threat. Emily Heil, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2022 Environmental agencies have called the pest a threat and urged those who stumble upon the insects to squash them and alert local officials. Yael Halon, Fox News, 21 Sep. 2022 This new mega-fire era poses a significant threat to ecosystems, people and property. Staff Writer Follow, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2022 Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Shepard Price, San Antonio Express-News, 21 Sep. 2022 Andrew Chafin got the ball, walked Anthony Santander but struck out Rutschman looking to end the threat. Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, 21 Sep. 2022 Ramsey was charged with felony battery and making a terroristic threat after an incident in which he's accused of biting a man's nose, Arkansas officials said. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 21 Sep. 2022 But the James lawsuit is a uniquely potent threat to the former president. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 21 Sep. 2022 The force posture of U.S. troops stationed in allied countries near Russia hasn't changed following Russian President Vladimir Putin's raising the threat to use nuclear weapons and mobilizing 300,000 reserve troops, defense officials said Wednesday. Nancy A. Youssef, WSJ, 21 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'threat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of threat


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for threat


Middle English thret coercion, threat, from Old English thrēat coercion; akin to Middle High German drōz annoyance, Latin trudere to push, thrust

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The first known use of threat was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Threat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for threat


\ ˈthret How to pronounce threat (audio) \

Kids Definition of threat

1 : the act of showing an intention to do harm
2 : someone or something that threatens the threat of punishment



Legal Definition of threat

: an expression of an intention to injure another : menace sense 1 criminal laws against making terroristic threats

More from Merriam-Webster on threat

Nglish: Translation of threat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of threat for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about threat


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