Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
Related to Threats: swot


Spoken or written words tending to intimidate or menace others.

Statutes in a number of jurisdictions prohibit the use of threats and Unlawful Communications by any person. Some of the more common types of threats forbidden by law are those made with an intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage or to compel a person to act against his or her will. In all states, it is an offense to threaten to (1) use a deadly weapon on another person; (2) injure another's person or property; or (3) injure another's reputation.

It is a federal offense to threaten to harm the president or to use the mail to transmit threatening communications. These laws must be balanced against First Amendment rights.

Unlawful communications include, among other things, the use of threats to prevent another from engaging in a lawful occupation and writing libelous letters or letters that tend to provoke a breach of the peace. The use of intimidation for purposes of collecting an unpaid debt has been held to constitute an unlawful communication but might be prosecuted as Extortion.

A mere threat that does not cause any harm is generally not actionable. When combined with apparently imminent bodily harm, however, a threat is an assault for which the offender might be subject to civil or criminal liability. In most jurisdictions, a plaintiff can recover damages for the intentional infliction of severe mental or emotional suffering caused by threats or unlawful communications.

In those jurisdictions that have statutes prohibiting unlawful communications, such as letters that tend to provoke a breach of the peace, a violation of the statute gives rise to a civil action for damages.

References in classic literature ?
Peter of Colfax entertained no doubt but that his fair prisoner would carry out her threat and so he set his men to work with cold chisels, axes and saws upon the huge door.
It was resolved, therefore, to keep a sharp look- out upon his movements; and M'Lellan swore that if he saw the least sign of treachery on his part, he would instantly put his old threat into execution.
In conjunction with these responsibilities, the unit implemented CTAD to serve as the primary repository for all communicated threats and other criminally oriented communications (COCs) within the FBI.
The Secure Internet Interface includes new worm infection reports, at-a-glance summary pages, information on critical emerging threats and vulnerabilities, and recommendations on Symantec Managed Security Services' response activity around global emerging threats.
Securing Network Access to Storage: Because NAS is located on an IP network, it is susceptible to many threats that travel the network.
The brain shows particular sensitivity to facial expressions that convey ambiguous threats rather than clear ones, according to a new brain-imaging investigation.
Counteracting the boomerang: The effects of choice on compliance to threats and promises.
In addition to evidence of the student's intent to do harm and the student's prior violent history, courts have taken into consideration recent school violence when determining if school officials have acted reasonably when faced with a student's threats of violence.
SA-XX) SAM signals, as well as various AAA threats.
Because John would not leave her alone, coupled with her awareness of violence and death threats in his prior marriage, Judy feared for her life and obtained a restraining order.