Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[thret-n] /ˈθrɛt n/
verb (used with object)
to utter a threat against; menace:
He threatened the boy with a beating.
to be a menace or source of danger to:
Sickness threatened her peace of mind.
to offer (a punishment, injury, etc.) by way of a threat:
They threatened swift retaliation.
to give an ominous indication of:
The clouds threaten rain.
verb (used without object)
to utter or use threats.
to indicate impending evil or mischief.
Origin of threaten
before 1000; Middle English thretnen, Old English thrēatnian, derivative of thrēat pressure, oppression. See threat, -en1
Related forms
threatener, noun
outthreaten, verb (used with object)
prethreaten, verb (used with object)
rethreaten, verb
2. endanger.
2. protect, defend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for threaten
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The latter meets the gaze of Lantanas with a sullen look, which seems to threaten disobedience.

  • No sensation, no indulgence, no excess seemed to threaten me.

    The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child
  • Our Emperor will see to it that there will be no British Empire to threaten our mercantile supremacy.

    Billy Barcroft, R.N.A.S. Percy F. Westerman
  • Tryin' to threaten you into givin' him a share in your business!

    The Ambulance Made Two Trips William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • Was it wise of him to work for the coming of a man who might threaten his own power?

    The Cathedral Sir Hugh Walpole
British Dictionary definitions for threaten


(transitive) to be a threat to
to be a menacing indication of (something); portend: dark clouds threatened rain
(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to express a threat to (a person or people)
Derived Forms
threatener, noun
threatening, adjective
threateningly, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for threaten

Old English þreatnian (see threat). Related: Threatened. Threatening in the sense of "portending no good" is recorded from 1520s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for threaten

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for threaten

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for threaten