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threaten - definition and synonyms

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verb     threaten pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlethreatening
past tensethreatened
past participlethreatened
  1. 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 to kill the hostages.

    threaten someone with something:

    One man has been threatened with legal action.

    threaten someone’s life (=say that you will kill them):

    My life has been threatened on several occasions.

    1. a.
      to say that you might or you will do something bad or harmful, especially in order to make someone do something

      NATO has threatened air strikes against the capital.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to be likely to harm or destroy something

    the cancer that now threatens his life

    Their actions threaten the stability and security of the region.

    Many workers feel that their jobs are threatened.

    threaten to do something:

    Nuclear testing threatens to destroy our environment.

  3. 3
    [intransitive] if something bad or unpleasant threatens, it is likely to happen or to affect you

    Rain was threatening, and it had turned cold.

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