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I found myself accidentally writing "threshhold" today, thinking semantically on the meaning.

Was there a time when "threshold" was spelt "threshhold"? Or is the etymology of this word really an esoteric combination of "thresh" and "old"?

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closed as general reference by Thursagen, simchona, Alenanno, Mitch, waiwai933 Aug 26 '11 at 17:20

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Closing on the grounds that this could easily have been looked up on etymonline.com, or dictionary.com – Thursagen Aug 26 '11 at 10:25
I don't think it is as simple as that. As the answers already show, it is far from clear where the second component of the word comes from. The commentary from people experienced in etymology is valuable, and not available on the websites you mentioned. – Glen Wheeler Aug 26 '11 at 10:29

Does not seem to be a combination of individual words "thresh + hold", rather the other way around from these sources.


Threshold," first recorded in the year 1000, descends from an Old English compound "threscold," "doorsill, point of entry."


O.E. þrescold, þærscwold, þerxold "doorsill, point of entering," first element related to O.E. þrescan (see thresh), with its original sense of "tread, trample." Second element of unknown origin and much transformed in all the Germanic languages; in English it probably has been altered to conform to hold, but the oft-repeated story that the threshold was a barrier placed at the doorway to hold the chaff flooring in the room is mere folk etymology. Cognates include O.N. þreskjoldr, Swed. tröskel, O.H.G. driscufli, Ger. dial. drischaufel.

Word Origins

The first element of threshold is identical with English thresh (OE)... It is not known where the second element of threshold came from.

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