General Science


  • noun the beginning of the part of the runway, usable for landing


  • noun a preset level which causes an action if a signal exceeds or drops below it


  • A shaped strip on the floor between the jambs of a door; used to separate different types of flooring, or to provide weather protectionat an exterior door.
  • The level of lighting or volume of illumination that permits an object to be seen a specified percentage of the time with specified accuracy.


  • The point, level, or value of a quantity which must be exceeded to have a given effect, result, or response, such as detection, activation, or operation. For instance, the threshold of hearing, the minimum voltage or current necessary to activate a circuit, or the frequency beyond which a loudspeaker does not reproduce sound. Also called limen.

Health Economics

  • (written as Threshold)
    A test incremental cost-effectiveness ratio that sets the upper bound for health care technologies to be deemed to be cost-effective. For obscure reasons, a dollar figure of around $50 000 per quality-adjusted life-year seems to have acquired benchmark status.


  • noun the point at which something starts, e.g. where something can be perceived by the body or where a drug starts to have an effect
  • noun the point at which a sensation is strong enough to be sensed by the sensory nerves

Real Estate

  • noun a piece of stone or hardwood that forms the bottom of a doorway

Origin & History of “threshold”

The first element of threshold is identical with English thresh (OE). This seems to go back ultimately to a prehistoric source that denoted ‘making noise’ (the apparently related Old church Slavonic tresku meant ‘crash’, and Lithuanian has trešketi ‘crack, rattle’). By the time it reached Germanic, as *thresk-, it was probably being used for ‘stamp the feet noisily’, and it is this secondary notion of ‘stamping’ or ‘treading’ that lies behind threshold – as being something you ‘tread’ on as you go through a door. Thresh by the time it reached English had specialized further still, to mean ‘separate grains from husks by stamping’, and this later evolved to simply ‘separate grains from husks’. Thrash (OE), which originated as a variant of thresh, has taken the further semantic step to ‘beat, hit’. It is not known where the second element of threshold came from.