distress

noun
dis·​tress | \ di-ˈstres How to pronounce distress (audio) \

Definition of distress

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 law

a : seizure and detention of the goods of another as pledge (see pledge entry 1 sense 1) or to obtain satisfaction of a claim by the sale of the goods seized
b : something that is distrained
2a : pain or suffering affecting the body, a bodily part, or the mind : trouble gastric distress The patient showed no obvious signs of distress. severe emotional distress voiced their distress over the delays
b : a painful situation : misfortune
3 : a state of danger or desperate need a ship in distress

distress

verb
distressed; distressing; distresses

Definition of distress (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to subject to great strain or difficulties homes distressed by poverty
2 archaic : to force or overcome by inflicting pain
3 : to cause to worry or be troubled : upset don't let the news distress you
4 : to mar (something, such as clothing or wood) deliberately to give an effect of age a distressed table distressed jeans

distress

adjective

Definition of distress (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : offered for sale at a loss distress merchandise
2 : involving distress goods a distress sale

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Other Words from distress

Verb

distressingly \ di-​ˈstre-​siŋ-​lē How to pronounce distressingly (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for distress

Noun

distress, suffering, misery, agony mean the state of being in great trouble. distress implies an external and usually temporary cause of great physical or mental strain and stress. the hurricane put everyone in great distress suffering implies conscious endurance of pain or distress. the suffering of famine victims misery stresses the unhappiness attending especially sickness, poverty, or loss. the homeless live with misery every day agony suggests pain too intense to be borne. in agony over the death of their child

Examples of distress in a Sentence

Noun

Citizens voiced their distress over delays in fixing the problem. The patient showed no obvious signs of distress. He suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the accident.

Verb

don't let all the bad news distress you
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But three claims are preserved as the Roe case heads toward trial: negligence, the negligent infliction of emotional distress and, now, the fiduciary duty to protect. Josh Kovner, courant.com, "Federal judge’s ruling moves former Hotchkiss School student’s sexual abuse lawsuit toward trial," 9 July 2019 Hearty in happiness and howling in distress, Cooper’s Othello is a compelling presence throughout. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "Review: A Civil War ‘Othello’ rages at Livermore Shakespeare Fest," 9 July 2019 The couple is now suing CHA Fertility for medical malpractice, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, misconduct, breach of contract and other issues, according to the Washington Post. Julie Mazziotta, PEOPLE.com, "Couple Says Fertility Clinic Used Wrong Embryos and Wife Gave Birth to Another Family's Twins," 8 July 2019 In April, the woman filed a counter-claim accusing Averett of battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process and invasion of privacy. Danielle Lerner, The Courier-Journal, "Kemari Averett's lawyer says U of L buried accusations against other football players," 17 June 2019 In her Instagram story, Thorne similarly touched upon the emotional distress the hack — and Goldberg’s negative reaction to it — has caused her. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, "Bella Thorne posted her nude photos to thwart a hacker. Whoopi Goldberg chastised her for taking them at all.," 19 June 2019 If Big Data can help manage persistent mental distress, the path forward is likely to run through the Golden State. New York Times, "California Tests a Digital ‘Fire Alarm’ for Mental Distress," 17 June 2019 Nearly two decades later, O'Connell, now 43, cannot erase one lasting memory: The screeching sound of the distress alarms attached to the portable air packs worn by firefighters. Ray Sanchez, CNN, "These are some of the 9/11 first responders who brought Jon Stewart to tears," 15 June 2019 For all the songs’ restless distress, ultimately this is an album marked by tentative hopefulness. Ken Capobianco, BostonGlobe.com, "On ‘Western Stars,’ Bruce Springsteen still singing for the lonely," 12 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Yes, comforting a child who is hurt or distressed is what parenting is all about. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Generous friend is overwhelmed by ‘gimmes’," 24 June 2019 Yes, comforting a child who is hurt or distressed is what parenting is all about. Ask Amy, oregonlive.com, "Ask Amy: 8-year-old’s friend has the gimmes and it feels like harassment," 24 June 2019 Yes, comforting a child who is hurt or distressed is what parenting is all about. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Generous friend is overwhelmed by ‘gimmes’," 24 June 2019 Yes, comforting a child who is hurt or distressed is what parenting is all about. Amy Dickinson, The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Generous friend is overwhelmed by “gimmes”," 24 June 2019 Yes, comforting a child who is hurt or distressed is what parenting is all about. Amy Dickinson, The Mercury News, "Ask Amy: We’re exhausted by this little boy’s demands for gifts," 24 June 2019 Yes, comforting a child who is hurt or distressed is what parenting is all about. Amy Dickinson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Generous friend is overwhelmed by ‘gimmes’," 23 June 2019 That would kill the deal and be deeply distressing for a continent already in conflict with the Trump administration over trade, climate change, military spending and multilateralism generally. Steven Erlanger, New York Times, "As U.S. and Iran Face Off, Europe Is Stuck in the Middle," 18 June 2019 Finally, hearing his mother’s distressed moans, Isaac padded out half-asleep and stood swaying on the creaky hardwood floor. Adam O’fallon Price, Harper's magazine, "The Maid’s Story," 10 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distress.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of distress

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for distress

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

Middle English destresse, from Anglo-French destresce, from Vulgar Latin *districtia, from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere — see distrain

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Statistics for distress

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distress

The first known use of distress was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for distress

distress

noun

English Language Learners Definition of distress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: unhappiness or pain : suffering that affects the mind or body
: a very difficult situation in which you do not have enough money, food, etc.
of a boat, airplane, etc. : a state of danger or desperate need

distress

verb

English Language Learners Definition of distress (Entry 2 of 2)

: to worry or upset (someone)

distress

noun
dis·​tress | \ di-ˈstres How to pronounce distress (audio) \

Kids Definition of distress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : physical or mental pain or suffering
2 : a state of danger or desperate need The ship was in distress.

distress

verb
distressed; distressing

Kids Definition of distress (Entry 2 of 2)

: to upset or cause to worry The news distressed her.

Other Words from distress

distressingly \ di-​ˈstre-​siŋ-​lē \ adverb

distress

noun
dis·​tress | \ dis-ˈtres How to pronounce distress (audio) \

Medical Definition of distress

: pain or suffering affecting the body, a bodily part, or the mind gastric distress respiratory distress

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distress

noun
dis·​tress

Legal Definition of distress

1 : seizure and detention of the goods of another as pledge or to obtain satisfaction of a claim by the sale of the goods seized specifically : seizure by a landlord of a tenant's property to obtain satisfaction of arrearages in rent

Note: Distress is regulated by statute where available. It has been held unconstitutional by some courts.

2 : pain or suffering affecting the body, a bodily part, or the mind — see also emotional distress

History and Etymology for distress

Anglo-French destrece, literally, tightness, anguish, deprivation, from Old French, ultimately from Late Latin districtus severe, from past participle of distringere to hinder, punish — see distrain

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