distress

noun
dis·tress | \ di-ˈstres \

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

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 \ 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

Indirect exposure to violent events — such as the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks or the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing — can cause emotional distress among people not directly affected. Alexander Tsai, STAT, "When police officers kill unarmed blacks, it affects blacks’ mental health across the country," 27 June 2018 This is important because even a trace amount of gluten is enough to cause distress to those with Celiac disease or a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. Emily Rubin, Rd, Ldn, Philly.com, "Going gluten free? Dietitian shares unexpected sources of gluten," 11 June 2018 But, Brent White told Dateline his wife's medical issues may have caused mental distress. Ashley Remkus, AL.com, "What happened to Jennifer Marshell White? Nurse, grandmother, councilman's wife still missing," 3 May 2018 As to Conley, Puscian sued him for assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Could Gareon Conley Legally Prove That Rape Allegation Caused Draft Slide, Financial Harm?," 12 July 2018 The first sign of distress arrived a couple of weeks ago, Sporting Kansas City falling out of the form that propelled it to the top of the Western Conference. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Sporting KC scores twice after halftime but winless streak hits three against Toronto," 7 July 2018 Cal Fire firefighter Matthew Rose with the Ramona Fire Department listed the benefits of a trail cleared of vegetation as providing a firebreak, good access points and position markers to identify the locations of people in distress. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Greenway trail would improve public safety, officials agree," 2 July 2018 Eddie Jacks, like most Tangier crabbers, had not fitted his boat with an emergency position-indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB, a device that automatically sends a satellite signal when a boat is in distress and pinpoints its location for rescuers. Earl Swift, Outside Online, "The Incredible True Story of the Henrietta C.," 20 June 2018 The suit argues that Rivas’s detention from Aug. 18 to Sep. 5 was an unlawful arrest that violated his due process rights and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. Akilah Johnson, BostonGlobe.com, "Rights group sues Bristol sheriff who detained Salvadoran for ICE," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Those demons, in part self-inflicted but most not, had haunted Houston since childhood, and their revelation will distress as well as shock. Graham Ambrose, BostonGlobe.com, "Darkness and light in Whitney Houston documentary," 4 July 2018 It is designed to relieve distressing symptoms such as pain, but is not based on prognosis and does not require a patient to forgo curative treatment. Stacey Burling, Philly.com, "How to know when it's time for hospice," 22 June 2018 For him, the hurricane is not the only weather factor distressing residents. Jose R. Gonzalez, Houston Chronicle, "Houston Summer Boat Show expects post-Harvey surge," 12 June 2018 There are also those intrusive thoughts that are simply distressing mental images and not necessarily to do with the deliberate violation of a social norm. Ashleigh Young, The Cut, "Ghost Knife," 2 July 2018 The decision, a few years after Kennedy took the bench, distressed many conservatives. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Historic cases decided by Justice Kennedy," 27 June 2018

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

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

Verb

see distress entry 1

Adjective

see distress entry 1

Noun

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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Phrases Related to distress

distress signal

distress signal/call

in distress

Statistics for distress

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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 \

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 \

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

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Comments on distress

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