[thresh-ohld, thresh-hohld]


the sill of a doorway.
the entrance to a house or building.
any place or point of entering or beginning: the threshold of a new career.
Also called limen. Psychology, Physiology. the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect: the threshold of consciousness; a low threshold of pain.

Origin of threshold

before 900; Middle English threschold, Old English threscold, threscwald; cognate with Old Norse threskǫldr, dialectal Swedish träskvald; akin to thresh in old sense “trample, tread”; -old, -wald unexplained Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of threshold

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British Dictionary definitions for threshold



Also called: doorsill a sill, esp one made of stone or hardwood, placed at a doorway
any doorway or entrance
the starting point of an experience, event, or ventureon the threshold of manhood
psychol the strength at which a stimulus is just perceivedthe threshold of consciousness Compare absolute threshold, difference threshold
  1. a level or point at which something would happen, would cease to happen, or would take effect, become true, etc
  2. (as modifier)threshold price; threshold effect
  1. the minimum intensity or value of a signal, etc, that will produce a response or specified effecta frequency threshold
  2. (as modifier)a threshold current
(modifier) designating or relating to a pay agreement, clause, etc, that raises wages to compensate for increases in the cost of living
Related formsRelated adjective: liminal

Word Origin for threshold

Old English therscold; related to Old Norse threskoldr, Old High German driscubli, Old Swedish thriskuldi
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 threshold

Old English þrescold, þærscwold, þerxold "doorsill, point of entering," first element related to Old English þrescan (see thresh), with its original sense of "tread, trample." Second element of unknown origin and much transformed in all the Germanic languages; in English it probably has been altered to conform to hold, but the oft-repeated story that the threshold was a barrier placed at the doorway to hold the chaff flooring in the room is mere folk etymology. Cognates include Old Norse þreskjoldr, Swedish tröskel, Old High German driscufli, German dialectal drischaufel.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

threshold in Medicine


[thrĕshōld′, -hōld′]


The place or point of beginning; the outset.
The lowest point at which a stimulus begins to produce a sensation.
The minimal stimulus that produces excitation of any structure, eliciting a motor response.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.