- tending or intended to menace: threatening gestures.
- causing alarm, as by being imminent; ominous; sinister: threatening clouds.
verb (used with object)
- to utter a threat against; menace: He threatened the boy with a beating.
- to be a menace or source of danger to: Sickness threatened her peace of mind.
- to offer (a punishment, injury, etc.) by way of a threat: They threatened swift retaliation.
- to give an ominous indication of: The clouds threaten rain.
verb (used without object)
- to utter or use threats.
- to indicate impending evil or mischief.
- (tr) to be a threat to
- to be a menacing indication of (something); portenddark clouds threatened rain
- (when tr, may take a clause as object) to express a threat to (a person or people)
v.Old English þreatnian (see threat). Related: Threatened. Threatening in the sense of “portending no good” is recorded from 1520s.