[ ik-stawr-shuhn ]
/ ɪkˈstɔr ʃən /
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an act or instance of extorting.
Law. the crime of obtaining money or some other thing of value by the abuse of one's office or authority.
oppressive or illegal exaction, as of excessive price or interest: the extortions of usurers.
anything extorted.


What Is The Difference Between "Bribery" vs. "Extortion"?

These are some of the oldest crimes we have in the history books, dating all the way back to English Common Law from the Middle Ages. But, even back then, there was a distinction between the two.

There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
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Which sentence is correct?

Origin of extortion

1250–1300; Middle English extorcion<Late Latin extortiōn- (stem of extortiō). See extort, -ion


non·ex·tor·tion, noun


bribery, extortion
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does extortion mean?

Extortion is the act of extorting—using 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.

The verb extort is commonly used in this literal way, but it can also be used in a more general or figurative way meaning to overcharge for something or to obtain through relentless and unreasonable demands. These senses liken such actions to the actual crime of extortion, as in The way they raise tuition every semester is extortion, if you ask me.

A person who engages in extortion can be called an extortionist or an extortioner. Such actions can be described as extortionary.

Example: The mob regularly uses extortion to squeeze money out of small business owners through intimidation.

Where does extortion come from?

The first records of the word extortion come from the 1200s. It ultimately 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. Extortion can happen 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 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.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to extortion?

What are some synonyms for extortion?

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

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

What are some words extortion may be commonly confused with?



How is extortion used in real life?

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



Try using extortion!

Which of the following actions is a form of extortion?

A. blackmail
B. theft by intimidation
C. abuse of power for favors
D. all of the above

How to use extortion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for extortion

/ (ɪkˈstɔːʃən) /

the act of securing money, favours, etc by intimidation or violence; blackmail

Derived forms of extortion

extortioner or extortionist, noun
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