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 As Grace, Kidman seems, at times, unsure of her own character’s intentions, shifting from blithe merriment to imperious boss-lady outbursts to turned-up-to-eleven distress. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "“The Undoing” Is Empty Life-style Porn," 9 Nov. 2020 Hirway fell in love with music as a child — first playing piano, then, in high-school bands, drums and guitar — and, to his parents’ distress, studied art at Yale. Reggie Ugwu, New York Times, "‘Song Exploder’ and the Inexhaustible Hustle of Hrishikesh Hirway," 3 Nov. 2020 The Nebraska game gave the offensive line an opportunity to read and react to distress in real time. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 18 Penn State free live stream (10/31/20): How to watch, TV options, updates, odds," 31 Oct. 2020 Whereas past news cycles ebbed and flowed over time, the kinds of crises that once came every few months now hit us every day, which also adds to the distress, Silver says. Washington Post, "The news is driving you mad. And that’s why you can’t stop devouring it.," 9 Oct. 2020 When asked about the claim that White students could harm others, Marmarelli pointed to potential emotional distress. Sam Dorman, Fox News, "College backtracks after designating separate discussion groups for White students and 'people of color'," 9 Sep. 2020 On May 15, Fisher went on medical leave due to emotional distress from the incident, according to her complaint. Andrew Boryga, sun-sentinel.com, "A bullying scandal rocks Delray, putting yet another city leader in turmoil," 29 Aug. 2020 Even now, Karie can relate to patients’ distress because the riots provoked flashbacks for him, too. Maya Rao, Star Tribune, "'They want to talk to somebody': Black therapists try to regroup after Twin Cities riots," 21 Aug. 2020 The judge threw out Mr. Sanchez’s defamation claim and a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. ... Corinne Ramey, WSJ, "Judge Tosses Defamation Suit Against Jeff Bezos," 6 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The rescue group said there are concerns that noise from an upcoming military exercise in the area for members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will distress the animals. NBC News, "Scottish rescuers attempt to herd whales away from coast ahead of military exercise," 1 Oct. 2020 Many colleges and universities across the nation, distressed by the negative financial, academic and social impact of continued online learning, are scrambling to find ways to safely educate and provide for their students in the fall. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, "How coronavirus could change college life: Outdoor classes, small group dorms, takeout dining," 30 Apr. 2020 McConnell’s plan would provide billions in loan guarantees to industries distressed by the crisis, such as the airlines, and offer billions in loan guarantees to small businesses. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Democrats says McConnell stimulus plan falls short as both parties head into talks on coronavirus relief," 20 Mar. 2020 The changes were often distressing to the old guard. Suzanne Daley, New York Times, "Making the Front Page: How All the News Fits in Print," 23 Dec. 2019 Gardner said the news is distressing to many members of the campus community. Sean Mcdonnell, Cincinnati.com, "Ohio teen charged with killing her mother during argument," 5 Mar. 2020 And his posture has distressed the leaders in states where the virus is spreading exponentially - overwhelming hospitals, exhausting medical supply stockpiles and ravaging communities. Anchorage Daily News, "Governors frustrated with offer of ‘backup’," 27 Mar. 2020 In 2020, 38 counties in eastern Kentucky were deemed economically distressed by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Alfred Miller, The Courier-Journal, "KentuckyWired promised broadband and high-tech jobs. Will it ever deliver?," 15 Jan. 2020 In 2020, 38 counties in eastern Kentucky were deemed economically distressed by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Alfred Miller, ProPublica, "They Were Promised Broadband and High-Tech Jobs. They’re Still Waiting.," 15 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Thys didn’t hang any of the flags upside down, but these are clearly distress symbols. Washington Post, "In the galleries: A wide array of media carry election-year messages," 30 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for distress

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for distress

Last Updated

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Distress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distress. Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for distress

distress

noun
How to pronounce distress (audio)

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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