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[thret] /θrɛt/
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.
an indication or warning of probable trouble:
The threat of a storm was in the air.
a person or thing that threatens.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
Archaic. to threaten.
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 forms
counterthreat, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for threats
  • In spite of all threats the peasant persisted in appealing against the robber to the grand steward himself.
  • In these refuges the hardships of poverty are eased, diseases cured, the threats of princes appeased.
  • Soldiers in the court-room frequently interrupted him with threats.
  • Seldom-seen rulers of their wintry domain, lynx may face new threats.
  • The park rangers and gorillas face the same threats to their safety as they did months ago.
  • Have excellent intelligence services that get information about threats long before they develop.
  • As ever, the threats could be phoney, but no one can take that risk.
  • In part this might be accomplished by pursuing a more indirect approach when confronted with new irregular warfare threats.
  • The threats to world growth have receded-though they have not disappeared.
  • It would also reverse the burden of proof, requiring owners to show they acquired land legally and without violence or threats.
British Dictionary definitions for threats


a declaration of the intention to inflict harm, pain, or misery
an indication of imminent harm, danger, or pain
a person or thing that is regarded as dangerous or likely to inflict pain or misery
an archaic word for threaten
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for threats



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
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Idioms and Phrases with threats


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