threaten

verb threat·en \ ˈthre-tᵊn \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of threaten

threatened; threatening play \ˈthret-niŋ, ˈthre-tᵊn-iŋ\
transitive verb
1 :to utter threats against
2 a :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

threatener

play \ˈthret-nər, ˈthre-tᵊn-ər\ noun

Examples of threaten in a Sentence

  1. The mugger threatened him with a gun.

  2. She threatened to quit if they didn't give her a raise, but no one believed her.

  3. Civil war has been threatening the country for years.

  4. a marriage threatened by financial problems

  5. Overfishing threatens the survival of certain fish species.

  6. The latest news threatens trouble for the economy.

Recent Examples of threaten from the Web

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.

First Known Use of threaten

13th century

threaten Synonyms

Synonyms
hang (over), hover (over), impend (over), menace, overhang
Related Words
endanger, hazard, imperil, jeopardize, peril

THREATEN Defined for English Language Learners

threaten

verb

Definition of threaten for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

threaten

verb threat·en \ ˈthre-tᵊn \

Definition of threaten for Students

threatened; threatening
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.

threateningly

adverb


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