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A threat that is devoid of worth or meaning, one that cannot or was never intended to be carried out. The manager is always full of empty threats about docking our pay, but he'll never actually go through with it.
give something under (the) threat of something
to give something only because one is threatened. He gave the money under threat of exposure. I think that is blackmail. You are asked to give your testimony under the threat of being jailed if you don't.
going to telland going to tattle
a threat that one is going to report someone's misdeed to someone in authority. If you do that again, I'm going to tell! Sue just went to the teacher. She's going to tattle.
Never make a threat you cannot carry out.
Prov. You should not threaten to do something you cannot do; otherwise, people will not believe you are serious when you threaten. Bill: If you don't stop being rude to me, I'll have you fired! Jane: You're not my boss. Never make a threat you cannot carry out.
A person who is adept in three areas, as in She's a triple threat on the editorial staff-she can edit, write, and design pages. This term comes from football, where it signifies a player who is good at running, passing, and kicking. [c. 1920] Also see hat trick.