threat·​en·​ing | \ ˈthret-niŋ How to pronounce threatening (audio) , 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 How to pronounce threateningly (audio) , 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

There was somebody who was sending me superlong, very threatening messages. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, "How Sackler Became the Most Toxic Name in Philanthropy," 16 May 2019 In the other social media case, an EPA employee reported in 2017 that a former colleague posted a potentially threatening message on social media. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Documents detail threats to EPA's Scott Pruitt," 8 May 2018 The brief excerpts did not show Taylor waving her arms around or acting in a boisterous or threatening manner, as police reports described her actions. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Top Dem boots Lena Taylor from budget committee after bank incident, employee dispute," 8 May 2018 They are also taught about cyber security, and how to manage threatening situations. Annabelle Spranklen, Town & Country, "Here's What It Takes to Become a Nanny for the British Royal Family," 9 Mar. 2019 Over two days in June 1961, Khrushchev berated Kennedy over Berlin and other issues, all but threatening nuclear war. Gregory Korte, USA TODAY, "A brief history of summits: How face-to-face meetings of world leaders shapes the world order," 11 June 2018 Yassin pleaded guilty to two counts of interstate threatening communication. Matt Campbell, kansascity, "Missouri woman sentenced to prison for tweeting ISIS threats against military," 8 June 2018 Then, the same group of students received another threatening text from an unknown number, the Houston Chronicle reported. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Black 8th-graders at Texas school all received the same racist, threatening texts | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 23 May 2018 John, now living in Nevada, began sending her threatening messages, demanding money and promising to ruin her. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Complete Timeline of the Events of Dirty John," 14 Jan. 2019

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

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for threatening

The first known use of threatening was in 1530

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Comments on threatening

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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