from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A piece of wood or stone placed beneath a door; a doorsill.
  • n. An entrance or a doorway.
  • n. The place or point of beginning; the outset.
  • n. The point that must be exceeded to begin producing a given effect or result or to elicit a response: a low threshold of pain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The bottom-most part of a doorway that one crosses to enter; a sill.
  • n. An entrance
  • n. The start of the landing area of a runway
  • n. The quantitative point at which an action is triggered, especially a lower limit
  • n. The wage or salary at which income tax becomes due
  • n. The outset of an action or project
  • n. The point where one mentally or physically is vulnerable in response to provocation or to particular things in general. As in emotions, stress, or pain.
  • n. The point of beginning or entry

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The plank, stone, or piece of timber, which lies under a door, especially of a dwelling house, church, temple, or the like; the doorsill; hence, entrance; gate; door.
  • n. Fig.: The place or point of entering or beginning, entrance; outset.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The plank, stone, or piece of timber which lies at the bottom of a door, or under it, particularly the door of a dwelling-house, church, temple, or other building; a door-sill; hence, entrance; gate; door.
  • n. Hence, the place or point of entering or beginning; outset: as, he is now at the threshold of his argument.
  • n. In psychology, the limit below which a given stimulus,' or the difference between two stimuli, ceases to be perceptible. Compare schwelle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the entrance (the space in a wall) through which you enter or leave a room or building; the space that a door can close
  • n. the smallest detectable sensation
  • n. a region marking a boundary
  • n. the sill of a door; a horizontal piece of wood or stone that forms the bottom of a doorway and offers support when passing through a doorway
  • n. the starting point for a new state or experience


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English thresshold, from Old English therscold, threscold.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English þrescold ("doorsill", "point of entering"), from þrescan ("tread", "trample")



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  • I have been chasing "threshold" since I saw a reference to it in connection with threshing where, without citation, the word was defined as a board placed across the door opening to keep the grain in the barn where it was threshed on the barn floor. I also remembered a threshold board 24 inches high to keep his cows in when the door was opened. This threshold board would also keep cattle in when used for thrIeshing.

    July 6, 2015

  • "WORD HISTORY: Perhaps the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold is dying out, but knowledge of the custom persists, leading one to wonder about the -hold or the thresh- in the word threshold. Scholars are still wondering about the last part of the word, but the thresh- can be explained. It is related to the word thresh, which refers to an agricultural process. This process of beating the stems and husks of grain or cereal plants to separate the grain or seeds from the straw was at one time done with the feet of oxen or human beings. Thus, the Germanic word ·therskan, or by the switching of sounds called metathesis, ·threskan, meant 'thresh' and 'tread.' This association with the feet is probably retained in Old English therscold or threscold (Modern English threshold), 'sill of a door (over which one treads).'"

    --The American Heritage Dictionary

    September 29, 2010