[ ik-stawr-shuh-nit ]
/ ɪkˈstɔr ʃə nɪt /
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grossly excessive; exorbitant: extortionate prices.
characterized by extortion, as persons: extortionate moneylenders.
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Origin of extortionate

First recorded in 1780–90; extortion + -ate1

OTHER WORDS FROM extortionate

ex·tor·tion·ate·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


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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What are some other forms related to extortionate?

What are some synonyms for extortionate?

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

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

How is extortionate used in real life?

Extortionate is most commonly used in the context of prices and illegal or unethical business practices.



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

British Dictionary definitions for extortionate

/ (ɪkˈstɔːʃənɪt) /

(of prices, etc) excessive; exorbitant
(of persons) using extortion

Derived forms of extortionate

extortionately, 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