Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


someone or something that is dangerous and likely to cause harm

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun menace was first used in English in the early 14th century and is a borrowing from French. The verb started to be used in the mid 14th century.


A menace can be used to anything or anyone that is dangerous and likely to cause harm. It is also a person or thing that annoys or threatens you. The storm that recently battered the British Isles was undoubtedly a menace that caused a great deal of harm and even some deaths; the practice of giving storms the names of people has been mentioned before on this blog. The most recent storm was named Dennis, which may have caused some to recall a character from children’s comics. A troublesome child can be referred to, either seriously or humorously, as a menace, and the term was used to refer to not one but two comic book characters called Dennis the Menace that coincidentally appeared on opposite sides of the Atlantic in 1951. The British Dennis the Menace is an unruly boy with a shock of black hair who wears a black and red sweater and causes all kinds of trouble, often aided and abetted by his equally unruly dog, Gnasher. The American Dennis has an equal taste for mischief and also wears a striped top but is a much milder character.


“I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us.”
(Dorothy Dix, journalist)

“Skiers view snowboarders as a menace; snowboarders view skiers as Elmer Fudd.”
(Dave Barry, journalist)

Related words

hazard, threat, danger

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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