Meaning of “threat” in the English Dictionary

"threat" in British English

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threatnoun [ C ]

uk /θret/ us /θret/

B2 a suggestion that something unpleasant or violent will happen, especially if a particular action or order is not followed:

[ + to infinitive ] Her parents carried out their threat to take away her mobile phone if her grades didn't improve.
The threat of jail failed to deter him from petty crime.
Drunken drivers pose a serious threat (= cause a lot of harm) to other road users.
He says he'll tell the authorities but it's just an empty threat (= it will not happen).
be under threat of sth

to be in a situation where people are threatening you with something bad or unpleasant:

She left the country under threat of arrest if she returned.

More examples

  • Nuclear weapons pose a threat to everyone.
  • The police have to take any terrorist threat seriously.
  • It is hoped that the kidnappers will not carry out their threat to kill the hostages.
  • Three main line railway stations were closed because of bomb threats.
  • The key witness for the prosecution was offered police protection after she received death threats.

(Definition of “threat” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"threat" in American English

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threatnoun

us /θret/

threat noun (PROMISE TO HURT)

[ C ] a statement that someone will be hurt or harmed, esp. if the person does not do something in particular:

She was fired after making threats to her co-workers.

threat noun (UNWANTED POSSIBILITY)

[ C/U ] the possibility that something unwanted will happen, or a person or thing that is likely to cause something unwanted to happen:

[ U ] A threat of rain is in today’s forecast.
[ U ] The boundary dispute raised the threat of war.

(Definition of “threat” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)