Definition of threaten
- the clouds threatened rain
- famine threatens the city
- the workers threatened a strike
- felt threatened by his brother's success
The mugger threatened him with a gun.
She threatened to quit if they didn't give her a raise, but no one believed her.
Civil war has been threatening the country for years.
a marriage threatened by financial problems
Overfishing threatens the survival of certain fish species.
The latest news threatens trouble for the economy.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'threaten.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
: to say that you will harm someone or do something unpleasant or unwanted especially in order to make someone do what you want
: to be something that is likely to cause harm to (someone or something) : to be a threat to (someone or something)
What made you want to look up threaten? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Confusing Words—A Quiz