Definition of extortionate
OTHER WORDS FROM extortionateex·tor·tion·ate·ly, adverb
Words nearby extortionate
MORE ABOUT EXTORTIONATE
What does extortionate mean?
Extortionate means extremely excessive, especially in reference to prices. A close synonym is exorbitant.
Extortionate can also be used to describe things involving extortion—the act of 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.
Extortion and the verb extort are commonly used in this literal sense, but they can also be used in a few more general or figurative ways. Extortion can refer to the practice of overcharging someone for something or to obtaining something through relentless and unreasonable demands. These senses liken such actions to the actual crime of extortion.
When used to refer to extortion, extortionate is most often applied to people or organizations that use such practices. The similar adjective extortionary is used to describe practices that involve or resemble extortion or people or organizations that engage in extortion.
Example: These are the same extortionate lenders who cheated people out of their life savings and wrecked the economy in the process.
Where does extortionate come from?
The first records of the word extortionate come from the late 1700s. Its base word, extort, 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. People described as extortionate can use a lot of different tactics for extortion, including intimidation and threats like these or violence. Blackmailers are extortionate. Sometimes, extortionate officials abuse their power or authority to get money or favors from others. All of these kinds of extortion are serious crimes that can carry a lengthy prison sentence.
The word extortionate is commonly used to describe excessively high prices. This sense of the word suggests that such prices are almost criminally high—that they’re similar to literal 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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How is extortionate used in real life?
Extortionate is most commonly used in the context of prices and illegal or unethical business practices.
Lawyers who litigated against pornography downloaders are indicted for alleged "extortionate tactics": https://t.co/gZJYcxBXfd
— American Bar Association (@ABAesq) December 19, 2016
1. New regulations on moneylenders are welcome. But instead of making them carry ads on extortionate rates (as high as 187%), let's just stop extortionate rates. In February Sinn Féin promised to protect families & place a cap on the rate of interest moneylenders can charge… https://t.co/UBeuVRDBzo
— Pearse Doherty (@PearseDoherty) June 8, 2020
Given the extortionate prices private contractors charge public sector, that should pay for new light bulbs in half of each school's classrooms.
— James Bradford🌹 (@SpitfireCC) June 29, 2020
Try using extortionate!
True or False?
Describing someone or something as extortionate always implies that literal extortion is involved.
How to use extortionate in a sentence
It’s ludicrous that the country should have to labor under this sort of extortionate threat every few years.Kill the debt limit now, Democrats. If you don’t, here’s what will happen.|Greg Sargent|September 22, 2021|Washington Post
Businesses are suffering more each day in an area where the rents are extortionate, and the situation could boil over soon.
Her sentence was manifestly excessive (the order to pay an extortionate $186 million alone proves his bias).
He continued to drink of the poisonous rank beverages served at extortionate prices.The Woman Gives|Owen Johnson
He replied that the market price was extortionate, and that his conscience would not allow him to accept it.Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler|Pardee Butler
No contract had been made as to price, and when she arrived there the cabman's extortionate charge was refused.Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete|Albert Bigelow Paine
If he had to borrow money he would do it from the government and would not be charged extortionate rates of interest as he is now.The Common Sense of Socialism|John Spargo
In this way the league tried to reduce overcrowding and extortionate rentals.Negro Migration during the War|Emmett J. Scott