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threaten

[thret-n]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to utter a threat against; menace: He threatened the boy with a beating.
  2. to be a menace or source of danger to: Sickness threatened her peace of mind.
  3. to offer (a punishment, injury, etc.) by way of a threat: They threatened swift retaliation.
  4. to give an ominous indication of: The clouds threaten rain.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to utter or use threats.
  2. to indicate impending evil or mischief.
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Origin of threaten

before 1000; Middle English thretnen, Old English thrēatnian, derivative of thrēat pressure, oppression. See threat, -en1
Related formsthreat·en·er, nounout·threat·en, verb (used with object)pre·threat·en, verb (used with object)re·threat·en, verb

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for threaten

threaten

verb
  1. (tr) to be a threat to
  2. to be a menacing indication of (something); portenddark clouds threatened rain
  3. (when tr, may take a clause as object) to express a threat to (a person or people)
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Derived Formsthreatener, nounthreatening, adjectivethreateningly, 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

Word Origin and History for threaten

v.

Old English þreatnian (see threat). Related: Threatened. Threatening in the sense of "portending no good" is recorded from 1520s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper