threshold

noun
thresh·​old | \ ˈthresh-ˌhōld How to pronounce threshold (audio) , ˈthre-ˌshōld\

Definition of threshold

1 : the plank, stone, or piece of timber that lies under a door : sill
2a : gate, door
b(1) : end, boundary specifically : the end of a runway
(2) : the place or point of entering or beginning : outset on the threshold of a new age
3a : the point at which a physiological or psychological effect begins to be produced has a high threshold for pain
b : a level, point, or value above which something is true or will take place and below which it is not or will not

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Synonyms for threshold

Synonyms

brink, cusp, edge, point, verge

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Did You Know?

The earliest known use of "threshold" in the English language is from Alfred the Great's Old English translation of the Roman philosopher Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae. In this translation, which was written around 888, "threshold" appears as "þeorscwold" (that first letter is called a thorn and it was used in Old English and Middle English to indicate the sounds produced by "th" in "thin" and "this"). The origins of this Old English word are not known, though it is believed to be related to Old English "threscan," from which we get the words thresh, meaning "to separate seed from (a harvested plant) using a machine or tool" and "thrash," meaning, among other things "to beat soundly with or as if with a stick or whip."

Examples of threshold in a Sentence

… we still hadn't grasped that we had crossed a threshold where it no longer mattered what passport you carried, that you were young and loved, … or that you were a noncombatant. — Paul Salopek, National Geographic, April 2008 As we speak, the very worst of humanity is on the threshold of acquiring the most powerful weapons in history—this is a fear and a consideration to be taken very seriously. — Charles Krauthammer, New Republic, 29 Apr. 2002 We thought that we were on the threshold of an age of space travel. But the greatest impact of the trip to the moon was on how we view the Earth. — Suzannah Lessard, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2001 He stepped across the threshold. If your income rises above a certain threshold, your tax rate also rises.
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Recent Examples on the Web

California also offers a state-level earned-income tax credit, which in 2018 gave around $400m to poor people who are working but fall below a certain threshold. The Economist, "WelfareCalifornia and Texas are both failing their neediest citizens," 22 June 2019 To be allowed to compete under the rules, Semenya and other affected athletes must medically reduce their testosterone to below a specific threshold set by the IAAF. Gerald Imray, courant.com, "IAAF argued in court that Semenya is ‘biologically male’," 18 June 2019 Ellington was dealt by the Heat in February as part of the team's maneuvering to drop below the luxury-tax threshold. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "ESPN links Heat’s Dion Waiters as trade option for Warriors’ voids," 15 June 2019 In many states, overuse of exemptions was pushing vaccination rates below the herd-immunity threshold. Time, "'They’re Chipping Away.' Inside the Grassroots Effort to Fight Mandatory Vaccines," 13 June 2019 But if any more candidates make one of the thresholds by Wednesday, there could be a tiebreaker, and that could put Swalwell at risk. Tal Kopan, SFChronicle.com, "First presidential debate spots at stake: Eric Swalwell on the bubble?," 11 June 2019 Both local numbers are under the 95 percent threshold that public health experts recommend for effective control of highly contagious pathogens such as measles. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego County kindergartner vaccination rate continues to drop," 11 June 2019 If more than 20 candidates meet both or either of those thresholds, those who are polling lowest will get cut. Casey Tolan, The Mercury News, "First Democratic presidential debate: Who’s in and who’s out?," 8 June 2019 López holds onto a slim 253-vote margin out of 143,773 votes cast, or slightly less than 0.2 percent — well within the 0.5 percent threshold that triggers an automatic recount. Jon Murray, The Denver Post, "Super-tight runoff for Denver clerk and recorder may not have a clear winner for a week — or longer," 5 June 2019

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for threshold

Middle English thresshold, from Old English threscwald; akin to Old Norse threskjǫldr threshold, Old English threscan to thresh

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Statistics for threshold

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for threshold

The first known use of threshold was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for threshold

threshold

noun

English Language Learners Definition of threshold

: a piece of wood, metal, or stone that forms the bottom of a door and that you walk over as you enter a room or building
: the point or level at which something begins or changes

threshold

noun
thresh·​old | \ ˈthresh-ˌhōld How to pronounce threshold (audio) \

Kids Definition of threshold

1 : the sill of a door
2 : a point or place of beginning or entering Ralph had a scary feeling he was on the threshold of adventure.— Beverly Cleary, The Mouse and the Motorcycle

threshold

noun
thresh·​old | \ ˈthresh-ˌ(h)ōld How to pronounce threshold (audio) \

Medical Definition of threshold

: the point at which a physiological or psychological effect begins to be produced (as the degree of stimulation of a nerve which just produces a response or the concentration of sugar in the blood at which sugar just begins to pass the barrier of the kidneys and enter the urine) below the threshold of consciousness the threshold of pain a high renal clearance threshold

called also limen

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threshold

noun
thresh·​old | \ ˈthresh-ˌhōld How to pronounce threshold (audio) \

Legal Definition of threshold

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a point of beginning : a minimum requirement for further action specifically : a determination (as of fact or the existence of a reasonable doubt) upon which something else (as further consideration or a right of action) hinges the threshold for inquiry

threshold

adjective

Legal Definition of threshold (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or being a threshold the threshold issue in a negligence action is whether the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiffNoakes v. City of Seattle, 895 P.2d 842 (1995) a threshold showing of the need for psychiatric evaluation

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