Use the word "threat" whenever someone or something is about to cause harm.

These sentences show how "threat’ is used as a noun:

  • Threats of violence did not stop the protestors from walking in the street.
  • A gas leak in the neighborhood created a threat to public safety, so the area was evacuated.
  • Smoking is a serious threat to your health.
  • Global climate change is a threat that everyone must take seriously.

As a verb, the word changes to "threaten."

simplepastpast participle
  • Cold weather is threatening the citrus crop in California.
  • A man threatened another man with a gun as they were driving on the highway.
  • Bill always threatens to call the police whenever the kids across the street have big, loud parties.
  • Several people in the building were threatened by the fire, but they all escaped uninjured.
  • Are you threatening me? (This question is in the present continuous tense.)

As an adjective, use "threatening."

  • Someone sent the newspaper a threatening letter.
  • A threatening snowstorm caused the airport to delay air traffic.
  • The situation in Syria is so threatening, aid workers are afraid to enter certain areas.

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This page was first published on January 12, 2013. It was updated on January 23, 2017.