threat

Definitions

General English

  • noun a warning to someone that you are going to do something unpleasant, especially if he or she does not do what you want

General Science

  • noun something dangerous which may cause harm or damage

Law

  • noun spoken or written words which say that something unpleasant may happen to someone, and which frighten that person
  • noun an action or situation that could be harmful or dangerous

Military

  • noun enemy forces
  • noun a statement declaring a person’s intention to do harm

Origin & History of “threat”

Threat originally meant ‘trouble, oppression’; ‘expression of an intention to do harm’ is a secondary sense, which arose out of the notion of ‘putting pressure’ on someone. It came from a prehistoric base *thraut-, *threut-, *thrut-, which probably went back to Indo-European *trud- ‘push, press’ (source also of Latin trūdere ‘thrust’, from which English gets abstruse, intrude, etc, and probably also of English thrust).
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