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 \ -​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

Meditation can also, to a lesser degree, reduce the toll of psychological distress, the review found. Eliza Barclay, Vox, "The growth of yoga and meditation in the US since 2012 is remarkable," 11 Nov. 2018 Drake is now reportedly suing Lace for civil extortion, emotional distress, fraud, defamation and abuse of process. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Drake reportedly claims in lawsuit woman attempted to extort him using false rape, pregnancy claims," 19 Sep. 2018 This negativity bias was helpful to our ancestors when survival depended on avoiding distress, danger, and discomfort. Samantha Boardman, Marie Claire, "How to Handle Criticism," 9 Aug. 2018 Most of the other songs on the album address relationships and broader life choices in various states of distress, presenting ambiguities and misunderstandings in an open-ended light. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Irish singer Brigid Mae Power infuses rustic folk music with an incantatory splendor," 29 June 2018 Mental distress on this scale — occurring year after year — is unthinkable. Alexander Tsai, STAT, "When police officers kill unarmed blacks, it affects blacks’ mental health across the country," 27 June 2018 Damsel takes its title from the outdated idea of the damsel in distress, a concept that gets systematically overturned in this offbeat western. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'Damsel': Robert Pattinson neo-western shoots itself in its hipster foot," 27 June 2018 Deputies and paramedics responded to the home around 5:15 p.m. and found the child in apparent distress, the sheriff's office said. Everton Bailey Jr., OregonLive.com, "Oregon mom cited after toddler overdoses on marijuana-infused candy," 31 May 2018 Responding to nine different distress calls, the TARDIS deposits the crew on the mysterious titular world, rife with debris from long-ago battles. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Doctor Who wraps a solid season with its first female Time Lord," 12 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Left to her lonesome, the same feelings of uncertainty and unknowing that so distressed her at home become oddly liberating, bolstering her quiet curiosity and spirit of adventure. Marley Marius, Vogue, "5 Solo Trips Inspired by Female Travelers in Film," 7 Aug. 2018 Where a pair of hand-distressed, made-in-LA Fear of God jeans can run you close to $1,000, expect a similar pair from Essentials to be more in the $200-$300 range. Jake Woolf, GQ, "You Could Use a Style Upgrade," 21 Mar. 2018 This news distressed many hourly workers in the evacuation zone, especially restaurant servers and bartenders. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Hurricane Florence is costing workers income. Blame federal labor laws.," 14 Sep. 2018 From the pilot to the finale, her cardigans were perfectly worn in, the jeans were distressed just so, and the coats were oversize without looking frumpy or sad. Mekita Rivas, Glamour, "20 Years Later, Felicity Is Still The Ultimate Fall Fashion Lookbook," 28 Sep. 2018 Though they may be distressed by the notion of 69-year-old Mr. Manafort spending decades in prison, Mr. Trump’s allies could spend their energy better by pointing out that the president was not involved in his schemes and was in fact used by him. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Cohen, Manafort and Midterms," 22 Aug. 2018 Following an awkward Group of Seven meeting in Quebec last month, Trump abruptly withdrew support from an economic agreement and unleashed a string of attacks against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, distressing longtime American allies. Rebecca Tan, Washington Post, "Trump just kicked off his week in Europe — here’s where he is headed," 11 July 2018 The Tribune found instances in which students were repeatedly interviewed, which distressed them and risked muddying subsequent law enforcement cases. Gary Marx, chicagotribune.com, "CPS sex abuse findings result in proposals to change Illinois law," 6 June 2018 Both people with autism and those with anorexia tend to be rigid, detail-oriented and distressed by change. Maia Szalavitz, Scientific American, "Autism—It's Different in Girls," 1 Mar. 2016

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

9 Mar 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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