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"?

  • Closing on the grounds that this could easily have been looked up on etymonline.com, or dictionary.com
    – Thursagen
    Aug 26, 2011 at 10:25
  • 3
    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. Aug 26, 2011 at 10:29

1 Answer 1


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.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.