A threat is an impending danger that has the potential to cause serious harm — it just hasn't done so yet. In The Wizard of Oz, the huge tornado that spiraled across the Kansas countryside posed a threat to the little girl named Dorothy in its path.

If a huge thug carrying an equally huge knife approaches you in a dark alley and demands, "Your wallet or your life," you feel the imminent threat. Your safety is at risk, especially if you don't hand over that wallet. Threats don't have to be big and scary, though. An extra-large slice of chocolate cake isn't armed and dangerous, but it's still a serious threat to any dieter who's trying to cut calories. Or, you could see a gray cloud as promising the threat of rain showers.

Definitions of threat

n declaration of an intention or a determination to inflict harm on another

“his threat to kill me was quite explicit”
a threat of divine punishment or vengeance
a threat or the act of threatening
Type of:
a statement that is emphatic and explicit (spoken or written)

n a warning that something unpleasant is imminent

“they were under threat of arrest”
Type of:
a message informing of danger

n something that is a source of danger

“earthquakes are a constant threat in Japan”
yellow peril
the threat to Western civilization said to arise from the power of Asiatic peoples
Type of:
a cause of pain or injury or loss

n a person who inspires fear or dread

scourge, terror
Type of:
individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul
a human being

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