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From Middle English threschwolde, threscholde, from Old English þresċold, þerxold, þrexwold (doorsill, entryway), from Proto-Germanic *þreskudlaz, *þreskūþlijaz, *þreskwaþluz, from Proto-Germanic *þreskaną, *þreskwaną (to thresh), from Proto-Indo-European *terh₁- (to rub, turn).

Cognate with Low German Drüssel (threshold), dialectal German Drischaufel, Drissufle, Trüschübel (threshold), Danish tærskel (threshold), Norwegian terskel (threshold), Swedish tröskel (threshold), dialectal Swedish träskvald (threshold), Icelandic þröskuldur (threshold).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈθɹɛʃ(h)əʊld/, (goat split) [ˈθɹɛʃ(h)ɒʊɫd]
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈθɹɛʃ(h)oʊld/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -əʊld



threshold (plural thresholds)

  1. The lowermost part of a doorway that one crosses to enter; a sill.
  2. (by extension) An entrance; the door or gate of a house.
  3. (by extension) Any end or boundary.
  4. (figurative) The outset of something; the point of entry, or the beginning of an action.
    • 1927-29, M.K. Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, translated 1940 by Mahadev Desai, Part I, Chapter xi:
      I arrived at last, did obeisance to my uncle, and told him everything. He thought it over and said: ' [] At the threshold of death, how dare I give you permission to go to England, to cross the seas? But I will not stand in your way. It is your mother's permission which really matters. If she permit you, then godspeed! Tell her I will not interfere. You will go with my blessings.'
    • 1951 March, John W. Cline, “The Future of Medicine”, in Northwest Medicine, volume 50, number 3, Portland, Ore.: Northwest Medical Publishing Association, page 165:
      The first half of this century has been referred to as the golden age of medicine. To me it seems more probable that we are on the threshold of a much greater age.
  5. (aviation) The start of the landing area of a runway.
  6. (engineering) The quantitative point at which an action is triggered, especially a lower limit.
  7. The wage or salary at which income tax becomes due.
  8. The point where one is mentally or physically vulnerable in response to a provocation or to other nuisances.


  • (antonym(s) of bottom-most part of a doorway): lintel

Derived terms

multiword expressions


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