The Meaning of Threshold: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of threshold? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word threshold, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word threshold mean?

According to the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word threshold refers to an architectural partition separating an exterior door or outside door by an enclosing frame that can be opened to allow for room access. This can also refer to a window opening.  These are often made of hardwood, and called a horizontal piece of wood.

Threshold can also be used to mean the lowest level of stimulation, lowest member of a framework, offset, minimum intensity  or minimal stimulus needed literally or figuratively in a given context. This could refer to a low pain threshold, the threshold of a new career, low boredom threshold or emotion threshold, the threshold of consciousness, a threshold current, a threshold on an income tax bracket or any other absolute threshold. If someone’s salary or pay agreement is below a certain threshold, they are in one tax bracket. You may even see the word threshold in the news, such as the minimum threshold of new coronavirus cases for mask mandates. Threshold can also refer to the starting point of an experience. This word is used in psychology and physiology to refer to a quantitative point or first element as well as a frequency threshold or difference threshold, as well as the threshold effect referring to the value of a signal. Threshold is two syllables – thres-hold.

The word threshold has translations in many different languages. Take a look at this list from Word Sense.

  •  Polish: próg‎ (masc.), przedsionek‎ (masc.)
  •  Georgian: ზღურბლი‎
  •  Latvian: slieksnis‎ (masc.)
  •  Kyrgyz: босого‎
  •  Tajik: остона‎, даргоҳ‎
  •  Malay: ambang‎
  •  Dutch: dorpel‎, drempel‎
  •  Maori: paewae‎, paepae‎, paepaepoto‎
  •  Bokmål: terskel‎ (masc.), dørstokk‎ (masc.)
  •  Armenian: շեմք‎, սեմ‎
  •  Roman: prag‎ (masc.)
  •  Danish: tærskel‎ (common), dørtærskel‎ (common)
  •  Persian: آستان‎ (âstân)
  •  Walloon: soû‎ (masc.)
  •  Urdu: ڈیوڑھی‎
  •  Estonian: künnis‎
  •  Cyrillic: праг‎ (masc.)
  •  Arabic: عَتَبَة‎ (fem.)
  •  Hindi: डेवढ़ी‎ (fem.)
  •  Greek: κατώφλι‎ (neut.)
  •  Latgalian: slīksnis‎ (masc.)
  •  Burmese: တံခါးခုံ‎, ဖိနပ်ချွတ်‎, အပေါက်ဝ‎
  •  Japanese: 敷居‎ (しきい, shikii)
  •  Icelandic: þröskuldur‎ (masc.)
  •  Mongolian: босго‎
  •  Turkish: eşik‎
  •  Slovene: prag‎ (masc.)
  •  French: seuil‎ (masc.)
  •  Kazakh: табалдырық‎
  •  Old East Slavic: порогъ‎ (masc.)
  •  Hebrew: סַף‎, מִפְתָּן‎
  •  Bengali: গোবরাট‎
  •  Indonesian: ambang‎
  •  Lithuanian: slenkstis‎ (masc.)
  •  Russian: поро́г‎ (masc.)
  •  Korean: 문턱‎, 문지방‎
  •  Thai: ธรณีประตู‎
  •  Turkmen: bosaga‎
  •  Norman: ché d’la porte‎ (masc.), pas dé l’us‎ (masc.)
  •  Belarusian: паро́г‎ (masc.)
  •  Hungarian: küszöb‎
  •  Yiddish: שוועל‎
  •  German: Schwelle‎ (fem.), Türschwelle‎ (fem.)
  •  Bashkir: тупһа‎, буҫаға‎
  •  Lao: ທໍຣະນີປະຕູ‎
  •  Polabian: роrg‎ (masc.)
  •  Bulgarian: праг‎ (masc.)
  •  Cyrillic: прагъ‎ (masc.)
  •  Vietnamese: ngưỡng‎, ngưỡng cửa‎
  •  Catalan: llindar‎ (masc.)
  •  Italian: soglia‎ (masc.)
  •  Azeri: astana‎, kandar‎
  •  Czech: práh‎ (masc.)
  •  Swedish: tröskel‎ (common)
  •  Upper Sorbian: рrоh‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: limiar‎ (masc.)
  •  Lower Sorbian: prog‎ (masc.)
  •  Volapük: soliad‎, (house) domasoliad‎
  •  Albanian: prag‎ (masc.)
  •  Finnish: kynnys‎
  •  Irish: tairseach‎ (fem.)
  •  Romanian: prag‎ (neut.)
  •  Uzbek: ostona‎, boʻsagʻa‎
  •  Macedonian: праг‎ (masc.)
  •  Slovak: prah‎ (masc.)
  •  Mandarin: 門檻‎, 门槛‎ (ménkǎn), 門限‎, 门限‎ (ménxiàn)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: stairsneach‎ (fem.)
  •  Spanish: umbral‎ (masc.)
  •  Ukrainian: порі́г‎ (masc.)

What is the word origin of the word threshold?

According to Collins English Dictionary and Etymonline, the word threshold has been used since the Middle English Thresshold and Old English therscold, Old English threscold and threscwald. This word is related to the German dialect Drischaufel, Old Norse threskoldr, Old High German driscubli, Old Norse threskǫldr, and Old Swedish thriskuldi. This word is of Indo-European roots.

How can the word threshold be used in a sentence?

Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also try to make flashcards or quizzes to test your knowledge of different definitions. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are some different examples of the word threshold to help get you started. 

The man had a low threshold of pain – some say this didn’t quite meet the threshold of manhood. He was in a lot of pain when the nurse had to take his urine.

Some believe that since the cost of living has gone up, the threshold price of a home needs to go down. 

After the interest rate hike in the overheating economy, central bankers have seen the tipping point of the threshold of the rates people are willing to accept.

The case rate threshold in San Diego has gone down, frustrating some. They believe people still need a mask to mitigate the given effect in facilities.

She was on the threshold of a new life, gating particular things she would need to escape her abusive family. She couldn’t let emotions get the better of her right now. She was ready to be in a new state of mind, no particular rule or particular class to hold her back.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word threshold?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word threshold. These are called synonyms. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary. Take a look at the below list of synonyms of threshold from Power Thesaurus.

  •  cut-off
  •  door
  •  doorsill
  •  boundary
  •  entrance
  •  threshold value
  •  verge
  •  point
  •  limiting
  •  maximum
  •  sill
  •  foyer
  •  cutoff
  •  cut-off point
  •  border line
  •  inception
  •  limit
  •  opening
  •  start
  •  doorstep
  •  dawn
  •  bound
  •  baseline
  •  lower limit
  •  barrier
  •  thrash
  •  level
  •  brink
  •  limen
  •  portico
  •  ceiling
  •  boundary line
  •  edge
  •  border
  •  threshhold
  •  commencement
  •  borderline
  •  gateway
  •  line
  •  portal
  •  doorway
  •  outset
  •  gate
  •  frontier
  •  porch
  •  beginning
  •  limitation
  •  entry
  •  minimum
  •  starting point
  •  vestibule
  •  entryway
  •  entranceway
  •  doorframe
  •  entree
  •  doorcase
  •  kickoff
  •  provocation

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word threshold. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  endless sleep
  •  final stage
  •  decease
  •  retirement
  •  closed
  •  everlasting sleep
  •  neverending sleep
  •  death
  •  exit
  •  dying
  •  parenthood
  •  all holiday
  •  servitude
  •  expiration
  •  tail
  •  halt
  •  incline
  •  purpose
  •  unending sleep
  •  finish
  •  ending
  •  period
  •  nadir
  •  finishing
  •  never-ending sleep
  •  final result
  •  closure
  •  passing on
  •  final phase
  •  logical conclusion
  •  last
  •  result
  •  object
  •  middle

Overall, the word threshold means a structural member consisting of a continuous horizontal timber that forms the bottom of a doorway or the sill of a door. The word threshold can also refer to the lower limit of stimulus or thing of sufficient intensity, literally or figuratively. There are many definitions of threshold referring to the excitation of any structure. 


  1. Threshold synonyms – 392 Words and Phrases for Threshold | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Threshold definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. threshold: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  4. Threshold antonyms – 35 Opposites of Threshold | Power Thesaurus 
  5. threshold | Origin and meaning of threshold | Online Etymology Dictionary