Extortion means forcing someone into giving you something through threats. A bully who tells kids he'll beat them up if they don't give him their lunch money is guilty of extortion.

Because extortion is a crime––mobsters are often charged with it––the word has a strict, legal meaning. It's the act of using threats or force to obtain something from someone. But the word is used in a general context as well. As you sell $5 boxes of M&Ms door-to-door to pay for your band trip to Florida, cranky neighbors may complain that, "At this price, it's extortion!" meaning they feel you're forcing them to give you their money.

Definitions of extortion

n unjust exaction (as by the misuse of authority)

“the extortion by dishonest officials of fees for performing their sworn duty”
Type of:
act of demanding or levying by force or authority

n the felonious act of extorting money (as by threats of violence)

extortion of money by threats to divulge discrediting information
protection, tribute
payment extorted by gangsters on threat of violence
extortion of money (as by blackmail)
Type of:
a serious crime (such as murder or arson)

n an exorbitant charge

Type of:
a price that is too high

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