\ ˈthret How to pronounce threat (audio) \

Definition of threat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage
2 : one that threatens
3 : an indication of something impending the sky held a threat of rain


threated; threating; threats

Definition of threat (Entry 2 of 2)


Examples of threat in a Sentence

Noun He was willing to use violence and threats to get what he wanted. She ignored their threats and continued to do what she felt was right. a country under threat of civil war
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Epigenetics potentially explains why effects of trauma may endure long after the immediate threat is gone, and it is also implicated in the diverse pathways by which trauma is transmitted to future generations. Rachel Yehuda, Scientific American, 18 June 2022 Bears in southeast Greenland survive by hunting on both sea and freshwater ice, a new study shows, but scientists warn that the threat from climate change remains. Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY, 17 June 2022 Perhaps more importantly, Ukraine should be able to re-up on missiles every few months—and maintain the threat to Russian ships. David Axe, Forbes, 17 June 2022 If so, what is the level of threat to your company? Rene Nunez, Rolling Stone, 16 June 2022 The move comes as Russian exhibitors and filmmakers face the most serious threat to their survival since the chaos the sector experienced in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nick Holdsworth, Variety, 16 June 2022 Damaging winds are the primary threat, forecasters say, although large hail is also possible. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 16 June 2022 And Powell’s Fed, which was slow to recognize the depth of the inflation threat, is now having to play catch-up with an aggressive series of rate increases. Paul Wiseman, Chicago Tribune, 16 June 2022 And the resource officer can be another barrier if the threat is coming from outside the school. Fox News, 15 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'threat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of threat


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for threat


Middle English thret coercion, threat, from Old English thrēat coercion; akin to Middle High German drōz annoyance, Latin trudere to push, thrust

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

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Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Threat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for threat


\ ˈthret How to pronounce threat (audio) \

Kids Definition of threat

1 : the act of showing an intention to do harm
2 : someone or something that threatens the threat of punishment



Legal Definition of threat

: an expression of an intention to injure another : menace sense 1 criminal laws against making terroristic threats

More from Merriam-Webster on threat

Nglish: Translation of threat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of threat for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about threat


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