AskDefine | Define extort

Dictionary Definition



1 obtain through intimidation
2 obtain by coercion or intimidation; "They extorted money from the executive by threatening to reveal his past to the company boss"; "They squeezed money from the owner of the business by threatening him" [syn: squeeze, rack, gouge, wring]
3 get or cause to become in a difficult or laborious manner [syn: wring from]

User Contributed Dictionary



From extortus, past participle of extorquere; from ex + -tort, from torqueo.



  1. To wrest from an unwilling person by physical force, menace, duress, torture, or any undue or illegal exercise of power or ingenuity; to wrench away (from); to tear away; to wring (from); to exact; as, to extort contributions from the vanquished; to extort confessions of guilt; to extort a promise; to extort payment of a debt.
  2. transitive law To obtain by means of the offense of extortion.


  • Norwegian: utpresse (1,2)

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Extortion, outwresting, or exaction is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person either unlawfully obtains money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution through coercion or intimidation or threatens a person, entity, or institution with physical or reputational harm unless he or she is paid money or property. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence or a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence or lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense. Exaction refers not only to extortion or the unlawful demanding and obtaining of something through force, additionally, exact in its formal definition means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or to make somebody endure something unpleasant. In the United States, extortion may also be committed as a federal crime across a computer system, phone, by mail or in using any instrument of "interstate commerce". Extortion requires that the individual sent the message "willingly" and "knowingly" as elements of the crime. The message only has to be sent (but does not have to reach the intended recipient) to commit the crime of extortion.
Extortion is distinguished from blackmail. In blackmail, the blackmailer threatens to do something which would be legal or normally allowed.
Extortion is distinguished from robbery. In "strong arm" robbery, the offender takes goods from the victim with use of immediate force. In "robbery" goods are taken or an attempt is made to take the goods against the will of another—with or without force. A bank robbery or extortion of a bank can be committed by a letter handed by the criminal to the teller. In extortion, the victim is threatened to hand over goods, or else damage to their reputation or other harm or violence against them may occur. Under federal law extortion can be committed with or without the use of force and with or without the use of a weapon. A key difference is that extortion always involves a written or verbal threat whereas robbery can occur without any verbal or written threat (refer to U.S.C. 875 and U.S.C. 876).
The term extortion is often used metaphorically to refer to usury or to price-gouging, though neither is legally considered extortion. It is also often used loosely to refer to everyday situations where one person feels indebted against their will, to another, in order to receive an essential service or avoid legal consequences. For example, certain lawsuits, fees for services such as banking, automobile insurance, gasoline prices, and even taxation, have all been labeled "extortion" by people with various social or political beliefs.

See also


External links

  • Legaltree, a Canadian legal portal, contains an article describing the elements of the offence of extortion under Canadian criminal law.
extort in German: Erpressung
extort in Esperanto: Ĉantaĝo
extort in French: Extorsion
extort in Polish: Wymuszenie rozbójnicze
extort in Russian: Вымогательство
extort in Dutch: Afpersing
extort in Swedish: Utpressning

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abstract, and, annex, appropriate, ask, ask for, badger, bag, blackmail, bleed, boost, borrow, bully, call for, challenge, cheat, claim, clamor for, coerce, cop, crib, cry for, defraud, demand, embezzle, exact, extract, filch, fleece, force, force from, get, gouge, hook, impose, indent, issue an ultimatum, levy, levy blackmail, lift, make a demand, make off with, milk, nip, obtain, order, order up, palm, pilfer, pinch, place an order, poach, pry loose from, purloin, put in requisition, rend, rend from, require, requisition, rip, rip from, run away with, rustle, screw, scrounge, secure, shake down, shoplift, skin, snare, snatch, snatch from, snitch, squeeze, steal, swindle, swipe, take, tear from, thieve, walk off with, warn, wrench, wrench from, wrest, wring, wring from
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