1

distress

play
noun dis·tress \di-ˈstres\

Definition of distress

  1. 1 law a :  seizure and detention of the goods of another as pledge (see 1pledge 1) or to obtain satisfaction of a claim by the sale of the goods seizedb :  something that is distrained

  2. 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 delaysb :  a painful situation :  misfortune

  3. 3 :  a state of danger or desperate need a ship in distress

Examples of distress in a Sentence

  1. Citizens voiced their distress over delays in fixing the problem.

  2. The patient showed no obvious signs of distress.

  3. He suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the accident.

Recent Examples of distress from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of distress

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

Synonym Discussion of distress

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

2

distress

verb dis·tress

Definition of distress

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to subject to great strain or difficulties homes distressed by poverty

  3. 2 archaic :  to force or overcome by inflicting pain

  4. 3 :  to cause to worry or be troubled :  upset don't let the news distress you

  5. 4 :  to mar (something, such as clothing or wood) deliberately to give an effect of age a distressed table distressed jeans

distressingly

play \-ˈstre-siŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of distress in a Sentence

  1. don't let all the bad news distress you

Recent Examples of distress from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of distress

see 1distress


3

distress

adjective dis·tress

Definition of distress

  1. 1 :  offered for sale at a loss distress merchandise

  2. 2 :  involving distress goods a distress sale

Origin and Etymology of distress

see 1distress



DISTRESS Defined for English Language Learners

distress

play
noun

Definition of distress for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of distress for English Language Learners

  • : to worry or upset (someone)


DISTRESS Defined for Kids

1

distress

play
noun dis·tress \di-ˈstres\

Definition of distress for Students

  1. 1 :  physical or mental pain or suffering

  2. 2 :  a state of danger or desperate need The ship was in distress.


2

distress

play
verb dis·tress

Definition of distress for Students

distressed

;

distressing

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

distressingly

\di-ˈstre-siŋ-lē\ adverb

Medical Dictionary

distress

play
noun dis·tress \dis-ˈtres\

Medical Definition of distress

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


Law Dictionary

distress

noun dis·tress

Legal Definition of distress

  1. 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 Editor's note: Distress is regulated by statute where available. It has been held unconstitutional by some courts.

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

Origin and Etymology of 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



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up distress? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

conspicuously offensive

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!