Threshold or threshhold

Threshhold is a common misspelling.

The correct spelling is threshold with no double h.

threshold is a border between rooms that you walk over to change from one area to another. Another, more figurative, definition is that a threshold can be the moment when some quality or amount begins to change. This can be either a physical or psychological quality. The change can also mean that a condition is met when something goes above the threshold and another action can take place.


As we step over the threshold, I take care to check my straight-shooting self at the curb. [The Denver Post]

This mechanism is one of the main reasons that people with high blood pressure tend to have a higher pain threshold. [Express]

The National Wages Council changes the threshold for low-wage workers to those earning S$1,100 or less a month, and recommends a minimum S$60 built-in wage increase for low-wage workers. [Channel News Asia]

Many parents are finding out that this means it is difficult to pass on their properties to their children without lumbering them with a big bill. This is because the thresholds where the tax applies are so low, and the rate of the tax is so high. [Irish Independent]

Kevin Reid, project manager for Mayor Boris Johnson’s Drain London program, says he’s working with boroughs, schools and hospitals to make them aware of risks and preventive steps, even simple ones such as putting basement generators on platforms, raising door thresholds and stocking up on sandbags. [Bloomberg]

1 thought on “Threshold or threshhold”

  1. Its an odd word, threshold: like so many Anglo-Saxon words that conjoin a pair or triplet of more fundamental words into one (e.g. horsefly, barnyard, feverfew, teaspoon, divebomb, nosebag, seafood, heartwood…), it isn’t widely appreciated, but thresh-hold is one of the same words, down to its core.

    Turns out that in mediaeval times, it was commonplace to strew one’s floors with thresh – themselves the degenerate plural noun of threshings (now long obsolete) the straw-like leftovers of the oft’ painted idyllic task of separating (typically but not always) wheat grain from wheatsheaves by bashing them around a bit. The threshings are notably clean, sweet smelling and quite durable. Strewn about between 1 and 2 inches deep, they make a rather pleasant if short-lived floor covering. Problem tho’, is that at the doors, there either would need to be a similar 2 inch gap, or, the door would catch the stuff, rumpling it to vexation.

    So, a thresh(ings)-hold was the rustic carpenter’s answer. A 2 inch high, 4 to 8 inch wide plank placed across the door jamb’s bottom, to hold in the thresh, and hold out seepings of rain, mist, and itinerant medium-sized animals. The long forgotten definition of a well hung door was that it is squared up well (i.e. doesn’t sag), is pinioned by its hinges accurately enough to neither swing open, or closed on its own accord, and to have a well fitting threshold with a minimal gap and a sturdy accurate form.

    And thus thresh-hold became threshold. As the author of this snippet notes, “taking {anything} over the threshold” elevated threshold from a physical barrier to almost any conceptual modest, initial or leading barrier. Quite the word.



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