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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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 last time China exceeded this threshold was in 2010. Jason Furman, WSJ, "Currency Manipulation Isn’t Among China’s Trade Sins," 15 Oct. 2018 And if small and medium-sized employers are exempt (the Sanders bill threshold is 500 employees), a majority of workers won’t be helped anyway. Mark Schmitt, Vox, "Why did Bernie Sanders’s Stop BEZOS legislation draw so much resistance?," 18 Sep. 2018 For instance, Dodd-Frank’s enhanced regulatory standards will now apply only to banks with $250 billion or more in assets, when the prior threshold was $50 billion. Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor, "Post-crisis banking rules: now altered but not undone," 30 June 2018 The threshold for what is considered excessive heat is lower early in the season in large part because people have not become acclimated to such temperatures. Chris Mccrory, azcentral, "Valley braces for sweltering 108 degrees Sunday amid excessive heat warnings," 5 May 2018 What meets that threshold can be a complicated question. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Migrant Caravan Enters Trump’s Hostile Immigration Maze," 1 May 2018 So my threshold for celebrity hair obsessions is pretty high. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "I'm Lowkey Stalking Dakota Johnson's Hair," 12 Oct. 2018 Our thresholds are $350 round-trip to Asia, less than $600 round-trip to Australia and New Zealand, or less than $300 round-trip to Europe. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "What Booking a 'Mistake Fare' Really Means," 22 June 2018 Thirty-one percent lived below the poverty line, or dwelled at its threshold. Rachel Vorona Cote, The New Republic, "Volunteers of the Ivory Tower," 1 May 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

26 Nov 2018

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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