Word of the Day : June 23, 2017

threshold

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noun THRESH-hohld

Definition

1 : the section of wood or stone that lies under a door : sill

2 a : the means or place of entry : entrance

b : the place or point of beginning : outset

3 : the point or level at which a physical or mental effect begins to be produced

Examples

"[This role] was very physical. At one point, … I'm trying to steal third, and they catch me. And I'm running back to second, running back to third, running back to second, running back to third…. We did that 50 times. A tear rolled down my cheek. I learned what my threshold for pain was, and I went beyond it." — Chadwick Boseman, quoted in Ebony, April 2013

"My dog Jude was sleeping on the rug, dreaming of running, his wrists flicking, when he let out a long, eerily muffled howl.… Jude startled awake and leapt to his feet barking loudly, as if he'd carried the dream across the threshold to full consciousness…." — Carl Safina, Natural History, July/August 2015



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."



Test Your Vocabulary

Unscramble the letters to create an adjective meaning "of or relating to a sensory threshold": IALMNIL.

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