\ 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 With new variants and rising cases in some destinations, the pandemic is still part of the travel landscape — and the threat of getting severely ill with covid increases with age and certain medical conditions. Erin E. Williams, Washington Post, 12 May 2022 Some member states, especially Germany, have also scrambled to find alternative supplies of gas amid the threat of a potential severing of gas exports by Moscow. WSJ, 11 May 2022 Without the threat of real competition, dominant social media platforms have been able to operate with near impunity. Evan Greer For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 10 May 2022 The House voted 217-202 to grant Congressional Staff the right to form a union & bargain collectively without threat of retaliation. New York Times, 10 May 2022 The two groups suing the state said Tuesday the court should order the commission to meet and approve new Ohio House and Senate maps, under threat of fines or the possibility that the court might impose its own map plan. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, 10 May 2022 Fans flock to multiplexes as soon as possible to avoid the threat of spoiler culture, catching installments before top-secret cameos or characters’ fates can be ruined online. J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 10 May 2022 Democrats insist that will change if the draft ruling becomes official and once candidates and groups start spending their massive campaign war chests on advertising that highlights the threat to reproductive rights. Mike Debonis And Josh Dawsey, Anchorage Daily News, 10 May 2022 Yoon's biggest and imminent challenge is the constant threat of North Korea, which has sped up its nuclear weapons program while test-firing missiles 15 times just this year alone. Byjoohee Cho, ABC News, 10 May 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

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Threat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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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