threaten

threaten, menace both mean to announce or forecast (as by word or look) an impending or probable infliction (as an evil or an injury). Threaten basically implies an attempt to dissuade or influence by promising punishment or the infliction of reprisals upon those who disobey an injunction or perform acts objectionable to the speaker
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the magistrates . . . solicited, commanded, threatened, urged— Milton

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another form of lying, which is extremely bad for the young, is to threaten punishments you do not mean to inflict— Russell

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However the term has been so extended in its meaning that it is often used with reference to things (as events, conditions, or symptoms) which presage or otherwise indicate something, and typically something dire or disturbing, to be about to or likely to happen
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overcast skies that threaten rain

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lived on the margin of survival, constantly threatened by famine and disease— Geddes

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without invoking the rule of strict construction I think that "so near as to obstruct" means so near as actually to obstruct—and not merely near enough to threaten a possible obstruction— Justice Holmes

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Menace is a somewhat more literary term than threaten, and it carries a much weaker implication of an attempt to dissuade or influence and a much stronger suggestion of an alarming or a definitely hostile character or aspect
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conditions that menace our liberty

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is it not experience which renders a dog apprehensive of pain, when you menace him 1—Locke

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the devastating weapons which are at present being developed may menace every part of the world— Attlee

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Analogous words: *intimidate, bulldoze, cow, browbeat: forebode, portend, presage, augur (see FORETELL): *warn, forewarn, caution

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Threaten — Threat en, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Threatened}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Threatening}.] [OE. [thorn]retenen. See {Threat}, v. t.] 1. To utter threats against; to menace; to inspire with apprehension; to alarm, or attempt to alarm, as with the promise of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • threaten — [thret′ n] vt. [ME thretnen < OE threatnian] 1. a) to make threats against; express one s intention of hurting, punishing, etc. b) to express intention to inflict (punishment, reprisal, etc.) 2. a) to indicate the likely occurrence of… …   English World dictionary

  • Threaten — Threat en, v. i. To use threats, or menaces; also, to have a threatening appearance. [1913 Webster] Though the seas threaten, they are merciful. Shak. [1913 Webster] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • threaten — [v1] warn, pressure abuse, admonish, augur, blackmail, bluster, browbeat, bully, caution, comminate, cow, enforce, flex muscles*, forebode, forewarn, fulminate, growl, intimidate, look daggers*, make threat, menace, portend, presage, pressurize,… …   New thesaurus

  • threaten — I verb admonish, augur, be near at hand, blackmail, bode, browbeat, coerce, comminari, comminate, forebode, foreshadow, forewarn, frighten, fulminate, hector, intimidate, menace, portend, presage, terrorize, use threats II index bait (harass),… …   Law dictionary

  • threaten — O.E. þreatnian (see THREAT (Cf. threat)). Related: Threatened. Threatening in the sense of portending no good is recorded from 1520s …   Etymology dictionary

  • threaten — ► VERB 1) make or express a threat to (someone) or to do (something). 2) put at risk; endanger. 3) (of a situation or the weather) seem likely to produce (an unwelcome result). DERIVATIVES threatening adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • threaten */*/*/ — UK [ˈθret(ə)n] / US verb Word forms threaten : present tense I/you/we/they threaten he/she/it threatens present participle threatening past tense threatened past participle threatened 1) a) [transitive] to tell someone that you might or you will… …   English dictionary

  • threaten — threat|en [ θretn ] verb *** 1. ) transitive to tell someone that you might or you will cause them harm, especially in order to make them do something: He s been threatening me for months. threaten to do something: The terrorists are threatening… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • threaten — / Tretn/ verb 1 (T) to say that you will cause someone pain, unhappiness, or trouble if they do not do what you want: threaten to do sth: Every time they quarrel, Jan threatens to leave. | threaten sb with sth: We were threatened with the sack if …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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