- to utter a threat against; menace: He threatened the boy with a beating.
- to be a menace or source of danger to: Sickness threatened her peace of mind.
- to offer (a punishment, injury, etc.) by way of a threat: They threatened swift retaliation.
- to give an ominous indication of: The clouds threaten rain.
- to utter or use threats.
- to indicate impending evil or mischief.
Origin of threaten
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Wordsintimidate, menace, scare, warn, imperil, jeopardize, portend, forewarn, caution, growl, forebode, torment, presage, browbeat, bully, blackmail, admonish, snarl, spook, terrorize
Examples from the Web for threaten
Anyone willing to threaten war over a joke is clearly not playing with a full deck.The Sony Hack and America’s Craven Capitulation To Terror
December 19, 2014
Second, they threaten one of the most precious resources in our state: public education that is open to all children.Hunger Games Comes to New York State’s Public Schools
November 26, 2014
“I meet with the editors, I write them letters, I threaten them,” he said.Would Pro-Israel Billionaires Adelson and Saban Really Buy the NYT?
November 9, 2014
The letter attacks Braley for having “willingly voted for extreme measures that threaten the lives of unborn children.”Pro-Life Group Sends Over The Top Mailer
October 31, 2014
My husband used my immigration status to threaten me for over twelve years.Immigrant Women Facing Domestic Abuse Need Stronger Protections
October 24, 2014
But that nevertheless he will not threaten either his own life, or that of any other man.Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)
Never again attempt to threaten people of property and station.Night and Morning, Complete
It seemed to threaten no such consequences at its commencement.The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson
Why should the Congregation of the Index threaten his work with interdiction?The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete
You shall not threaten me into a rashness that my heart condemns!Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)
- (tr) to be a threat to
- to be a menacing indication of (something); portenddark clouds threatened rain
- (when tr, may take a clause as object) to express a threat to (a person or people)
Word Origin and History for threaten
Old English þreatnian (see threat). Related: Threatened. Threatening in the sense of "portending no good" is recorded from 1520s.