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threaten

[thret-n] /ˈθrɛt n/
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.
verb (used without object)
5.
to utter or use threats.
6.
to indicate impending evil or mischief.
Origin of threaten
1000
before 1000; Middle English thretnen, Old English thrēatnian, derivative of thrēat pressure, oppression. See threat, -en1
Related forms
threatener, noun
outthreaten, verb (used with object)
prethreaten, verb (used with object)
rethreaten, verb
Synonyms
2. endanger.
Antonyms
2. protect, defend.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for threaten
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The latter meets the gaze of Lantanas with a sullen look, which seems to threaten disobedience.

  • But that nevertheless he will not threaten either his own life, or that of any other man.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Our Emperor will see to it that there will be no British Empire to threaten our mercantile supremacy.

    Billy Barcroft, R.N.A.S. Percy F. Westerman
  • Never again attempt to threaten people of property and station.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Was it wise of him to work for the coming of a man who might threaten his own power?

    The Cathedral Sir Hugh Walpole
British Dictionary definitions for threaten

threaten

/ˈθrɛtən/
verb
1.
(transitive) to be a threat to
2.
to be a menacing indication of (something); portend: dark clouds threatened rain
3.
(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to express a threat to (a person or people)
Derived Forms
threatener, noun
threatening, adjective
threateningly, 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
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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