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

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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 Yet county-by-county numbers reported weekly as part of the the state’s coronavirus alert system - the system for placing counties on red alert - does provide some clues as to how much things must improve before Ohio could drop below the threshold. Rich Exner, cleveland, "Just when can Ohio expect a lifting of state-ordered coronavirus restrictions? Gov. DeWine’s goal shows he isn’t rushing it," 5 Mar. 2021 Once 2 million doses have been administered in these communities, the state will relax the threshold to enter the red tier, allowing counties with a rate of up to 10 new cases per day per 100,000 people to progress. Luke Money, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County warns against spring break travel, as potential reopenings near," 5 Mar. 2021 For teams on the bubble in the scramble to make it to March Madness, every win after reaching the 13-game threshold is another reason for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to give them an at-large bid. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "A College Basketball Season in Which One in 10 Games Vanished," 5 Mar. 2021 Of those five states, Johns Hopkins University data show only Montana's ratio of positive tests over the past week is less than 5%, the threshold the World Health Organization recommends before reopening. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, "As Americans get vaccinated, fewer are getting tested for COVID-19. Doctors say that could be a big problem.," 5 Mar. 2021 Payments would decline for incomes above those threshold. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Third stimulus check: How soon might you receive a $1,400 check?," 4 Mar. 2021 No national leader since Harry Truman has decided to cross the nuclear threshold. Michael Krepon, Forbes, "Is The Pentagon Preparing To Fight The Wrong War?," 4 Mar. 2021 The bill is unlikely to receive the bipartisan 60-vote threshold necessary to pass legislation in the Senate. NBC News, "Houses passes voting rights bill, Biden criticizes 'Neanderthal thinking' on masks and the pope's risky Iraq trip," 4 Mar. 2021 Among the nations with overweight populations above the 50 percent threshold were also those with some of the largest proportions of coronavirus deaths — including countries such as Britain, Italy and the United States. Washington Post, "Most coronavirus deaths occurred in countries where majority of adults are overweight," 4 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for threshold

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

7 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Threshold.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/threshold. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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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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Comments on threshold

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