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Old English þrēat (crowd, army).



threat (plural threats)

  1. An expression of intent to injure or punish another.
  2. An indication of imminent danger.
    • 2013 May-June, Katrina G. Claw, “Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm”, American Scientist, volume 101, number 3: 
      Many genes with reproductive roles also have antibacterial and immune functions, which indicate that the threat of microbial attack on the sperm or egg may be a major influence on rapid evolution during reproduction.
  3. A person or object that is regarded as a danger; a menace.
    • 2011 September 2, Phil McNulty, “Bulgaria 0-3 England”, BBC:
      Rooney's United team-mate Chris Smalling was given his debut at right-back and was able to adjust to the international stage in relatively relaxed fashion as Bulgaria barely posed a threat of any consequence.

Related terms[edit]


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threat (third-person singular simple present threats, present participle threating, simple past and past participle threated)

  1. (archaic) To threaten.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, I.vii:
      An hideous Geant horrible and hye, / That with his talnesse seemd to threat the skye []
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, V. i. 37:
      O yes, and soundless too; / For you have stolen their buzzing, Antony, / And very wisely threat before you sting.