- 1 [transitive] to say that you will cause trouble, hurt somebody, 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 [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 [transitive] threaten something to be a danger to something synonym endanger, at risk (from/of something) Pollution is threatening marine life. See related entries: Conservation Word Origin Old English thrēatnian ‘urge or induce, especially by using threats’, from thrēat ‘oppression’, of Germanic origin.Extra examples I never felt threatened by him. Many species are now threatened with extinction. Our marriage was constantly threatened by his other women. Our way of life is gravely threatened. She had repeatedly threatened to commit suicide. She threatened him with a gun. social unrest which seriously threatens the stability of the whole area Did he ever say anything to suggest that he felt threatened, or that his life was in danger? Pollution along the coastline is threatening marine life. She claimed that the conflict was threatening stability in the region. The hijackers threatened to kill the passengers if their demands were not met. The union threatened that unless the new rules were withdrawn, they would call a strike.
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BrE BrE//ˈθretn//; NAmE NAmE//ˈθretn//Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they threaten
BrE BrE//ˈθretn//; NAmE NAmE//ˈθretn//he / she / it threatens
BrE BrE//ˈθretnz//; NAmE NAmE//ˈθretnz//past simple threatened
BrE BrE//ˈθretnd//; NAmE NAmE//ˈθretnd//past participle threatened
BrE BrE//ˈθretnd//; NAmE NAmE//ˈθretnd//-ing form threatening
BrE BrE//ˈθretnɪŋ//; NAmE NAmE//ˈθretnɪŋ//Conservation