threaten Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “threaten” in the English Dictionary

"threaten" in British English

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threatenverb

uk   us   /ˈθret.ən/
B2 [T] to ​tell someone that you will ​kill or ​hurt them or ​causeproblems if they do not do what you ​want: They threatened the ​shopkeeper with a ​gun. [+ to infinitive] They threatened tokill him ​unless he did as they ​asked.C1 [T] to be ​likely to ​causeharm or ​damage to something or someone: Changing ​patterns of ​agriculture are threatening the ​countryside.C2 [I] If something ​bad threatens to ​happen, it is ​likely to ​happen: Look at those ​clouds! There's a ​storm threatening.

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

"threaten" in American English

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threatenverb

 us   /ˈθret·ən/
  • threaten verb (PROMISE TO HURT)

[I/T] to ​tell someone that you will ​hurt or ​harm him or her, esp. if the ​person does not do something in ​particular: [I] They threatened to ​drop him from the ​team if he didn’t come to ​practice. [T] Don’t threaten me!
  • threaten verb (WARN OF POSSIBILITY)

[T] to ​warn of something ​unpleasant or ​unwanted: She threatened ​legalaction against the ​newspaper. Because of ​continuingdrought, millions are threatened with ​starvation.
(Definition of threaten from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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