Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word


 - definition

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb threaten pronunciation in American English /ˈθret(ə)n/ 
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.

  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.

    The wildebeest return to the herd when danger threatens.



a paid holiday given to a new employee before they start their job

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

selfie stick

an expandable stick which you attach to a mobile phone or camera to help you take a selfie …

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog