v. threat·ened, threat·en·ing, threat·ens
1. To express a threat against or give indications of taking hostile action against: threatened his neighbor with a knife.
2. To be a source of danger to; endanger: Landslides threatened the mountain village.
3. To give signs or warning of; portend: clouds threatening rain.
4. To announce the possibility of (something) in a threat or prediction: workers threatening a walkout; a customer threatening to sue for fraud.
5. To cause (someone) to feel that their power, social standing, or self-esteem is in danger of being diminished: felt threatened by his colleague's promotion.
1. To express or use threats.
2. To indicate or be a source of danger or harm: “When World War II threatened, Broadway turned to patriotic extravaganzas” (Deanne Stillman).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.