American English

Definition of threaten verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they threaten
    he / she / it threatens
    past simple threatened
    -ing form threatening
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  1. 1[transitive] to say that you will cause trouble, hurt someone, etc. if you do not get what you want threaten somebody They broke my windows and threatened me. threaten somebody with something The attacker threatened them with a gun. He was threatened with dismissal if he continued to turn up late for work. threaten something The threatened strike has been called off. threaten to do something The hijackers threatened to kill one passenger every hour if their demands were not met. threaten that… They threatened that passengers would be killed.
  2. 2[intransitive, transitive] to seem likely to happen or cause something unpleasant A storm was threatening. When war threatens, people act irrationally. threaten to do something This dispute threatens to split the party. threaten something The clouds threatened rain.
  3. 3[transitive] threaten something to be a danger to something synonym endanger, at risk (from/of something) Pollution is threatening marine life.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: threaten