Threat “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “threat” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and “Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:”




Words or conduct intended to intimidate. A means of duress [Allen v Plymouth, 313 Mass 356, 47 NE2d 284; Fox v Piercey, 119 Utah 367, 227 P2d 763].

In law, a threat is a declaration of an intention or determination to injure another person by the commission of some unlawful act. An intimidation is the act of making another person timid or fearful by such a declaration. If the act intended to be done is not unlawful, then the declaration is not a threat in law, and the effect is not intimidation in a legal sense [Payne v Western & Atlantic Railroad Co. 81 Tenn (13 Lea) 507].

As to the effect of a threat as a breach of the pace [see 12 Am J2d Breach P §12].


  1. A menace of destruction or injury to the lives or property of those against whom it is made.
  2. Sending threatening letters to persons for the purpose of extorting money, is said to, be a misdemeanor at common law [Hawk. B. 1, c. 53, s. 1; 2 Russ. On Cr. 575; 2 Chit. Cr. L. 841; 4 Bl. Com. I26]. To be indictable, the threat must be of a nature calculated to overcome a firm and prudent man. The party who makes a threat may be held to bail for his good behaviour [Vide Com. Dig. Battery, D; 13 Vin. Ab. 357].



In criminal law, a menace; a declaration of one’s purpose or intention to work injury to the person, property, or rights of another.

  • A threat has been defined to be any menace of such a nature and extent as to unsettle the mind of the person on whom it operates, and to take away from his acts that free, voluntary action which alone constitutes consent [Abbot. See State v. Cushing, 17 Wash. 544, 50 Pac. 512; State v. Brownlee, 84 Iowa. 473, 51 N. W. 25; Cote v. Murphy, 159 Pa. 420, 28 Atl. 190; 23 L. R. A. 135, 39 Am. St. Rep. 686].



A menace; denunciation of ill; declaration of an intention or determination to inflict punishment, loss or pain on another.

There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats.

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