\ 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)


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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Is the president under attack and Wonder Woman is trying to save him, but the Secret Service mistakes her as a threat? Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Everything We Know About Wonder Woman 1984," 9 Dec. 2019 His work is popular with followers of QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group that the FBI recently labeled as a domestic terrorism threat. Seth Hettena, The New Republic, "The Man Behind the Right Wing’s Favorite Conspiracy Theories," 9 Dec. 2019 How Buttigieg handles the heat will be another measure of the durability of his improbable run, now that the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is seen as a serious threat to front-running candidates, especially in Iowa. Thomas Beaumont, Indianapolis Star, "Facing new test, Pete Buttigieg pledges openness — with caution," 9 Dec. 2019 Putting it between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic would be seen by many as a threat to their Irishness, and could be attacked by smaller dissident republican groups that opposed the 1998 peace deal, police warn. NBC News, "Northern Ireland: How Brexit and U.K. election unearthed old demons," 9 Dec. 2019 And where common action does occur, the guardians of the state immediately see it as a threat. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "A Powerful Statement of Resistance from a College Student on Trial in Moscow," 7 Dec. 2019 All want to spread Shia influence across the region, and view the protests as a threat. The Economist, "Elites backed by Iran are clinging to power in Iraq," 5 Dec. 2019 Washington — Attorney General William Barr is igniting fresh controversy with comments that some see as a threat to communities of color. Jeff Pegues, CBS News, "William Barr says communities will not have "police protections" without respect for officers," 4 Dec. 2019 When Hunt won the Republican nomination in 1986, he was not seen as a threat to win the general election. Mike Cason |, al, "Alabama Bicentennial: 200 years of political scandals and scrapes," 4 Dec. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for threat

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for threat

Last Updated

12 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Threat.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 13 December 2019.

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More Definitions for threat


How to pronounce threat (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of threat

: a statement saying you will be harmed if you do not do what someone wants you to do
: someone or something that could cause trouble, harm, etc.
: the possibility that something bad or harmful could happen


\ 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

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Comments on threat

What made you want to look up threat? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


easily led, controlled, or managed

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