[ ik-stawrt ]
/ ɪkˈstɔrt /
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See synonyms for: extort / extorts on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. to wrest or wring (money, information, etc.) from a person by violence, intimidation, or abuse of authority; obtain by force, torture, threat, or the like.
  2. to take illegally by reason of one's office.
to compel (something) of a person or thing: Her wit and intelligence extorted their admiration.
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Origin of extort

First recorded in 1525–1500; from Latin extortus, past participle of extorquēre, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + torquēre “to twist”; see tort

synonym study for extort

1. See extract.


ex·tort·er, nounex·tor·tive, adjectivenon·ex·tor·tive, adjectiveun·ex·tort·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does extort mean?

Extort means to use violence, threats, intimidation, or pressure from one’s authority to force someone to hand over money (or something else of value) or do something they don’t want to do.

Extort is commonly used in this literal way, but it can also be used in a few more general or figurative ways.

It can mean to overcharge someone for something, as in If you ask me, the textbooks companies are extorting us by coming out with new editions every year. 

It can also mean to obtain through relentless and unreasonable demands, as in The kids are good at extorting treats from their grandparents just by constantly asking.

These senses liken such actions to the actual crime of extortion. More generally, the word extortion refers to the act of extorting. Such actions can be described as extortionary. A person who engages in extortion can be called an extortionist or an extortioner.

Example: The mob regularly extorts money from small business owners through intimidation.

Where does extort come from?

The first records of the word extort come from the 1300s. It comes from the Latin extortus, meaning “wrenched out,” from the verb extorquēre, “to wrest away,” from torquēre, “to twist.”

When a mobster walks into a shop and says, “Nice place you got here—it would be a shame if something happened to it,” they’re threatening to make bad things (destruction and violence) happen unless you pay them not to do those bad things. That’s extortion. People extort in a lot of different ways, such as through intimidation and threats like these or through violence. Blackmail is a specific type of extortion. Sometimes, people extort money or favors from other people by abusing their power or authority. All of these kinds of extortion are serious crimes that can carry a lengthy prison sentence.

The word extort is also often used in a more general way. It’s especially used in the context of politics to criticize politicians for using methods that are similar to or that some consider to be extortion.

What’s the difference between bribery and extortion? Extortion is often the act of requiring a bribe from someone, or forcing someone to provide money or favors in some other corrupt way. Bribery typically refers to the act of bribing or the exchange itself.

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What are some other forms related to extort?

What are some synonyms for extort?

What are some words that share a root or word element with extort

What are some words that often get used in discussing extort?

What are some words extort may be commonly confused with?

How is extort used in real life?

Extort is often used in a legal context, but it can also be used in a figurative way.



Try using extort!

Which of the following actions could be used as a way to extort money from someone?

A. blackmail
B. intimidation
C. threats
D. all of the above

How to use extort in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for extort

/ (ɪkˈstɔːt) /

verb (tr)
to secure (money, favours, etc) by intimidation, violence, or the misuse of influence or authority
to obtain by importunate demandsthe children extorted a promise of a trip to the zoo
to overcharge for (something, esp interest on a loan)

Derived forms of extort

extorter, nounextortive, adjective

Word Origin for extort

C16: from Latin extortus wrenched out, from extorquēre to wrest away, from torquēre to twist, wrench
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