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 Separately, candidates can also qualify for the debate by meeting a polling threshold. Sarah Ewall-wice, CBS News, "DNC announces qualifications for South Carolina Democratic presidential debate hosted by CBS News," 15 Feb. 2020 Different people have a different threshold for being vulnerable. al, "Why Christian author Lysa TerKeurst shares her private struggles," 5 Feb. 2020 Other companies took notice, but none ran with the concept like Ruger, which set a new threshold for the category with the Ruger American. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "Best Guns of the Decade," 2 Jan. 2020 Eventually, the research crosses a threshold where the observations mostly just constrain existing models rather than giving rise to entirely new ones. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "Lights Out: Astronomers Illuminate the Mystery of Vanishing Quasars," 12 Dec. 2019 The rules of entry, as set by the Democratic National Committee, currently require participants to meet a polling threshold and raise donations from tens of thousands of voters. Arkansas Online, "Bloomberg vows to refuse donations, presidential salary," 23 Nov. 2019 Glendale Community College has a lower threshold and can now exchange the day as long as the institution completes a minimum of 175 instructional service days. Andrew J. Campa, Glendale News-Press, "Glendale Community College can now commemorate Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day," 10 Oct. 2019 Every major news story has a threshold at which Delbanco knows Time for Kids will have to cover it. Ashley Fetters, The Atlantic, "How a Kids’-News Outlet Is Explaining Impeachment," 1 Oct. 2019 Research did not necessarily support a correlation between productivity and working hours beyond a reasonable threshold, but the tech industry thrived on the idea of its own exceptionalism; the data did not apply to us. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, "Four Years in Startups," 23 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for threshold

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Threshold.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thresholds. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for threshold

threshold

noun
How to pronounce threshold (audio)

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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