threaten

verb
threat·​en | \ ˈthre-tᵊn How to pronounce threaten (audio) \
threatened; threatening\ ˈthret-​niŋ How to pronounce threatening (audio) , ˈthre-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of threaten

transitive verb

1 : to utter threats against
2a : to give signs or warning of : portend the clouds threatened rain
b : to hang over dangerously : menace famine threatens the city
3 : to announce as intended or possible the workers threatened a strike
4 : to cause to feel insecure or anxious felt threatened by his brother's success

intransitive verb

1 : to utter threats
2 : to portend evil

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Other Words from threaten

threatener \ ˈthret-​nər How to pronounce threatener (audio) , ˈthre-​tᵊn-​ər \ noun

Examples of threaten in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In May, a landmark report released by a United Nations committee found that one million of the planet's eight million species are threatened with extinction. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Almost 600 plant species have become extinct in the last 250 years," 11 June 2019 There has been damage to cars and other scrap materials in the yard, McDade said, but the department said surrounding houses or businesses are not threatened. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Junkyard near 16th Street and Broadway on fire," 10 June 2019 Thirty Years Ago Three employees were locked in a storeroom and the manager was threatened at gunpoint during a 12:50 a.m. robbery of Reflections restaurant on Foothill Boulevard (where Dish operates today). Carol Cormaci, latimes.com, "La Cañada History: Kansas sixth-grader wins NASA rover-naming contest, visits JPL," 10 June 2019 Many of these species may vanish, too; a major review of the status of global biodiversity recently estimated than more than a million species (including 14% of plant and animal diversity) are threatened with extinction. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Twice as many plants have gone extinct than birds, mammals, and amphibians combined," 10 June 2019 For a few, fleeting moments Sunday, Rafael Nadal found his French Open supremacy seemingly threatened by Dominic Thiem, a younger, talented opponent challenging him in the final for the second consecutive year. Howard Fendrich, chicagotribune.com, "Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem in 4 sets to win his 12th French Open title," 9 June 2019 For a few, fleeting moments Sunday, Rafael Nadal found his French Open supremacy seemingly threatened by Dominic Thiem, a younger, talented opponent challenging him in the final for the second consecutive year. Howard Fendrich, courant.com, "Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem in four sets to win his 12th French Open, 18th career Grand Slam title," 9 June 2019 Additionally, the implementation of Remain in Mexico is threatened by ongoing litigation. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "More than 10,000 asylum seekers returned under "Remain in Mexico" as U.S. set to expand policy," 8 June 2019 The piece depicts things in nature that are threatened, endangered or extinct in Ontario — birds, plants. Kathy Berdan, Twin Cities, "Minneapolis Institute of Art exhibit is first to honor Native women artists," 7 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of threaten

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for threaten

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for threaten

The first known use of threaten was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for threaten

threaten

verb

English Language Learners Definition of threaten

: 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)

threaten

verb
threat·​en | \ ˈthre-tᵊn How to pronounce threaten (audio) \
threatened; threatening

Kids Definition of threaten

1 : to show an intention to do harm or something unwanted He threatened to quit.
2 : to give warning of by an indication The clouds threatened rain.

Other Words from threaten

threateningly adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on threaten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with threaten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for threaten

Spanish Central: Translation of threaten

Nglish: Translation of threaten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of threaten for Arabic Speakers

Comments on threaten

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