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See also: Threat and þreat



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English threte, thret, thrat, thræt, threat, from Old English þrēat (crowd, swarm, troop, army, press; pressure, trouble, calamity, oppression, force, violence, threat), from Proto-Germanic *þrautaz, closely tied to Proto-Germanic *þrautą (displeasure, complaint, grievance, labour, toil), from Proto-Indo-European *trewd- (to squeeze, push, press), whence also Middle Low German drōt (threat, menace, danger), Middle High German drōz (annoyance, disgust, horror, terror, fright), Icelandic þraut (struggle, labour, distress), Latin trūdō (push, verb).


threat (plural threats)

  1. An expression of intent to injure or punish another.
    • 1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene iii]:
      There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats.
    • 1995, Richard Rhodes, “Scorpions in a Bottle”, in Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb[1], New York: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 575:
      At the height of the crisis, according to a retired SAC wing commander, SAC airborne alert bombers deliberately flew past their turnaround points toward Soviet airspace, an unambiguous threat which Soviet radar operators would certainly have recognized and reported. "I knew what my target was," the SAC general adds: "Leningrad." The bombers only turned around when the Soviet freighters carrying missiles to Cuba stopped dead in the Atlantic.
  2. An indication of potential or imminent danger.
    • 2013 May-June, Katrina G. Claw, “Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm”, in 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”, in 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.
    • 2022 July 1, The Japan Times Editorial Board, “Groundbreaking NATO summit means work for Japan”, in The Japan Times[2], archived from the original on 01 July 2022, Editorials:
      Japan applauds NATO’s identification of China as a threat in the Strategic Concept. The document notes that China poses “systemic challenges” and declared the “deepening strategic partnership” between Moscow and Beijing as one of its main priorities. Significantly, it explained that developments in distant theaters can “directly affect” trans-Atlantic security.
Usage notes[edit]

Adjectives commonly used along with the noun: existential, possible, potential

Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English threten, from Old English þrēatian (to press, oppress, repress, correct, threaten). Akin to Middle Dutch drōten (to threaten).


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

  1. (transitive) To press; urge; compel.
  2. (transitive, archaic) To threaten.
  3. (intransitive) To use threats; act or speak menacingly; threaten.