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See more synonyms for menace on Thesaurus.com
  1. something that threatens to cause evil, harm, injury, etc.; a threat: Air pollution is a menace to health.
  2. a person whose actions, attitudes, or ideas are considered dangerous or harmful: When he gets behind the wheel of a car, he's a real menace.
  3. an extremely annoying person.
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verb (used with object), men·aced, men·ac·ing.
  1. to utter or direct a threat against; threaten.
  2. to serve as a probable threat to; imperil.
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verb (used without object), men·aced, men·ac·ing.
  1. to express or serve as a threat.
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Origin of menace

1250–1300; Middle English < Middle French < Latin minācia, equivalent to mināc- (stem of mināx) jutting out, threatening + -ia -ia
Related formsmen·ac·er, nounmen·ac·ing·ly, adverbnon·men·ac·ing, adjectivepre·men·ace, noun, verb (used with object), pre·men·aced, pre·men·ac·ing.un·men·aced, adjectiveun·men·ac·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for menacing

frightening, alarming, threatening, dangerous, lowering, looming, impending, approaching, louring, imminent, minatory, intimidatory, minacious

Examples from the Web for menacing

Contemporary Examples of menacing

Historical Examples of menacing

  • There was a little pause, and the father stood rigid, menacing.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • To the north lies Thunder Mountain, wall-sided and menacing.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • "You won't do anything of the kind," said Chip, quietly—too quietly not to be menacing.

  • Clouds, heavy and menacing, already shrouded the whole west.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • In spite of the menacing hand, the voice inspired confidence.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for menacing


  1. to threaten with violence, danger, etc
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  1. literary a threat or the act of threatening
  2. something menacing; a source of danger
  3. informal a nuisance
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Derived Formsmenacer, nounmenacing, adjectivemenacingly, adverb

Word Origin for menace

C13: ultimately related to Latin minax threatening, from mināri to threaten
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

Word Origin and History for menacing


1540s, present participle adjective from menace (v.). Related: Menacingly.

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c.1300, "declaration of hostile intent," also "act of threatening," from Old French menace "menace, threat" (9c.), from Vulgar Latin minacia "threat, menace" (also source of Spanish amenaza, Italian minaccia), singular of Latin minaciæ "threatening things," from minax (genitive minacis) "threatening," from minari "threaten, jut, project," from minæ "threats, projecting points," from PIE root *men- (2) "to project." Applied to persons from 1936.

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c.1300, from Old French menacer "threaten, urge" (11c.), Anglo-French manasser, from Vulgar Latin *minaciare "to threaten," from minacia (see menace (n.)). Related: Menaced; menacing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper