See more synonyms for threat on
  1. a declaration of an intention or determination to inflict punishment, injury, etc., in retaliation for, or conditionally upon, some action or course; menace: He confessed under the threat of imprisonment.
  2. an indication or warning of probable trouble: The threat of a storm was in the air.
  3. a person or thing that threatens.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. Archaic. to threaten.

Origin of threat

before 900; (noun) Middle English threte, Old English thrēat pressure, oppression; cognate with Old Norse thraut hardship, bitter end; (v.) Middle English threten, Old English thrēatian to press, threaten
Related formscoun·ter·threat, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for threat

Contemporary Examples of threat

Historical Examples of threat

  • Then I shall have to put it out of your power to carry out your threat.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • And you forget that—that devil—suppose she's as good as her threat?

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • One threat which he used again and again, discovers all his world-blindness to me.

  • He did not seem particularly alarmed at her threat—or, perhaps, he did not care.

  • "I'll have you before his honour," is the threat of an Irishman who hopes for partiality.

British Dictionary definitions for threat


  1. a declaration of the intention to inflict harm, pain, or misery
  2. an indication of imminent harm, danger, or pain
  3. a person or thing that is regarded as dangerous or likely to inflict pain or misery
  1. an archaic word for threaten

Word Origin for threat

Old English; related to Old Norse thraut, Middle Low German drōt
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 threat

Old English þreat "crowd, troop," also "oppression, menace," related to þreotan "to trouble, weary," from Proto-Germanic *threutanan (cf. German verdrießen "to vex"), from PIE *trud- "push, press" (cf. Latin trudere "to press, thrust," Old Church Slavonic trudu "oppression," Middle Irish trott "quarrel, conflict," M.Welsh cythrud "torture, torment, afflict"). Sense of "conditional declaration of hostile intention" was in Old English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with threat


see triple threat.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.