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

There was another pause at the threshold, a perceptible presentational instant, as if he were poised on the balls of his feet in order to see and be seen. Kennedy Fraser, Vogue, "From the Archives: Karl Lagerfeld, The Impresario," 19 Feb. 2019 But private equity deals are bumping up against debt limits while total corporate debt has crossed the $6 trillion dollar threshold, even higher than the levels reached before the 2001 and 2007 recessions. Evan Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, "Public, private, now public again. Dell’s dance with investors makes sense," 2 July 2018 The screenshot shared by Musk appears to show a development build of Autopilot with a series of options including blind spot threshold, which helps the system in performing moves such as changing lanes on a highway. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "Elon Musk: Version of Tesla's Autopilot has a 'Mad Max' mode," 25 June 2018 In order for most mosquito larvae to grow, temperatures need to be above a threshold, which varies, depending on the species, but is typically around seven to 16 degrees Celsius. Heath Macmillan, Smithsonian, "Why Some Summers Are So Appealing For Mosquitoes," 22 June 2018 The council and city staff will discuss the issue, including the dollar amount threshold, at a study session before deciding later that evening whether to place it on the upcoming ballot. Hillary Davis, latimes.com, "Newport Beach may need voters’ permission before taking on some large debts," 22 June 2018 Air Quality Life Index Most of the United States averages annual particulate air pollution below the WHO’s safety threshold, so the index shows there isn’t much room for the US to improve life expectancies. Umair Irfan, Vox, "How improving air quality could add years to people’s lives around the world.," 21 Nov. 2018 The Los Angeles Dodgers dropped below the threshold for the first time since 2012 and won their second straight NL pennant — but lost the World Series for the second consecutive year. Ronald Blum, The Seattle Times, "Teams, agents wonder whether slow market will repeat," 7 Nov. 2018 The duo was about 31 miles high, just below the threshold of space. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Today’s failed Soyuz launch complicates the future of the International Space Station," 11 Oct. 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

16 Apr 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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