threshold

noun
thresh·​old | \ ˈthresh-ˌhōld, 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

The original WADA Prohibited List in 2004 banned salbutamol unless the athlete had a Therapeutic Use Exemption; even then there was a threshold beyond which a TUE didn’t apply. Joe Lindsey, Outside Online, "The Chris Froome Ruling Just Broke Anti-Doping," 3 July 2018 The White House has also proposed drastically raising the threshold for the proportion of an automobile that needs to be manufactured in North America to qualify for Nafta’s zero tariffs. New York Times, "White House’s Nafta Approach Frustrates Businesses, Panicked Emails Show," 6 June 2018 Even Ducati's SuperSport—its official name, not its class—competes as a sort of threshold-straddling weirdo, with a modest 937-cc motor pushing 110 horses through a pudgy 463 pounds, wet. Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "Motorcycle Makers Are Bailing Out of Building Supersport Bikes. Not Kawasaki.," 12 Dec. 2018 Platinum has a 2,500-point threshold and the highest tier, Diamond, takes 7,500 points. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Uber's New Rewards Program Offers Priority Airport Pick-Up, Locked-In Pricing," 14 Nov. 2018 The race between Gillum and Ron DeSantis for governor has narrowed to a percentage below the threshold legally needed to trigger a recount by machine. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Stacey Abrams’s Campaign Says Recount or Runoff Is Possible—If All Georgia Votes Are Actually Counted—While Andrew Gillum’s Race Enters Recount Range in Florida," 8 Nov. 2018 The findings seem, at face value, very worrisome: of the 61 products tested, 31 had levels of glyphosate above the EWG’s acceptable threshold. Yvette D'entremont, SELF, "Should You Worry About Herbicides In Your Food?," 10 Oct. 2018 The storm crossed the 74 miles-per-hour threshold from tropical storm to hurricane Sunday morning, and by evening its winds were up to 85 mph. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Florence forecast to become 'major hurricane,' moving towards southeastern US," 2 Oct. 2018 In just one day, Garth and Trisha as well as future homeowners and hundreds of others have done everything from framing to cutting door thresholds. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "This Is Why You Never See Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Apart," 29 Aug. 2018

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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Last Updated

8 Jan 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 \

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 \

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 \

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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