In the context of a legal/political philosophical writing, I have occasion to examine the relationship between one who makes a threat (the "threatener") and one against whom a threat has putatively been made (the "threatenee").
OED has an entry for "threatener." Google n-grams confirms that it is used, but only rarely. Notably, a general search reveals that its used almost exclusively in contexts like mine. However, there is no OED entry for "threatenee." N-grams lists no books, but a general search yields a number of hits works similar to those above. It seems as though "threatenee" is accepted, if in very limited use.
As an alternative, I am considering "the threatened" carrying the (to me obvious) sense of "the threatened [person]." Ambiguity might arise in situations where "the threatened [course of action]" is a reasonable interpretation, but I think those will be rare and can be dealt with contextually. There may be additional alternatives but I have no data on use or acceptability for any.
I have three questions:
- Is threatener / threatenee acceptable to you?
- If any part is not, can you suggest an alternative?
- Are there any general rules for determining the appropriate suffix in such cases?
Re: #3, This post on choosing verb to noun suffixes suggests there are no general rules. This post specifically on "er/or" suggests a German/Latin distinction between "er/or" for verb -> "acting on" noun. Other posts suggest that when both are available, choose based on contemporary usage (see, e.g. the post on canceller / cancellor), but there isn't much guidance when both are rare. Finally, this post specifically on "ee" suggests "ee" is acceptable for nearly any verb -> "acted on" noun so long as it will be clear to the audience.