threat·​en·​ing | \ ˈthret-niŋ, ˈthre-tᵊn-iŋ\

Definition of threatening

: expressing or suggesting a threat of harm, danger, etc. received a threatening message a threatening manner : indicating or suggesting the approach of possible trouble or danger saw threatening clouds on the horizon

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Other Words from threatening

threateningly \ ˈthret-​niŋ-​lē , ˈthre-​tᵊn-​iŋ-​ \ adverb
gestured threateningly

Synonyms for threatening


imminent, impending, looming, pending

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Examples of threatening in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Photo: United States Geological Survey Researchers just released an update to the definitive list of most threatening volcanoes in the United States. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "Volcanologists just ranked the most threatening volcanoes in the United States," 26 Oct. 2018 For many real-life Charlottes, that kind of shopping trip still seemed a bit threatening; something destined to remain fantasy rather than become a part of real life. Lux Alptraum, Vox, "PlusOne is the first brand of personal massagers Walmart will sell.," 25 Oct. 2018 The difficulties journalists face when dealing with threatening behavior from members of the public came into stark relief in Thursday's deadly attack at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis. Tamara Lush, Fox News, "Handling online threats to journalists presents difficulties," 3 July 2018 The biggest consideration is intent — and any threatening behaviors that may accompany the talk. Elaine Varelas,, "To help stop offensive old-school language, be a tactful role model," 1 July 2018 Brazil - the most threatening nation on the planet, were on their way to being dumped out by a country known best for drinking tea., "On This Day: 21st June - Ronaldinho Wonder Free-Kick Dumps England Out of 2002 World Cup," 21 June 2018 The threatening behavior of some people who appear either mentally ill or high. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, "Clean up San Francisco’s streets, tourist industry pleads," 17 Apr. 2018 Conventional deterrence in Europe had already been squandered, and to this date Russia is undeterred from engaging in a range of threatening behaviors that mete out serious harm to Western security interests., "Merkel's military revival," 29 Mar. 2018 Gil Cisneros, Democratic candidate for California’s 39th Congressional District, denies leaving a threatening voice mail on the phone of his rival’s wife. David Weigel, Washington Post, "California Democrat threatens legal action over ‘fabricated voice mail’," 27 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'threatening.' 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 threatening

1530, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near threatening






threats action


Statistics for threatening

Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for threatening

The first known use of threatening was in 1530

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someone who never drinks alcohol

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