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 Jamie Racklyeft, executive director of the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium, pointed out that untrained beachgoers who try to save someone in distress often become casualties themselves. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's closed pools, lack of beach lifeguards and high water levels create 'the perfect storm' for Great Lakes drownings," 28 May 2020 Hazen donated his salary for April and May to an internal fund for employees in distress, while senior management took a 30 percent pay cut. Nelson D. Schwartz, BostonGlobe.com, "To avoid layoffs, some companies turn to pay cuts, defying conventional wisdom," 24 May 2020 The group says 26 rural hospitals have closed in the state since 2010, and many others are in financial distress. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Jacksboro’s ‘lifeblood’ rural hospital feels abandoned during pandemic," 24 May 2020 The only exceptions to the social-distancing rule, the CDC said, should be individuals involved with the evacuation of the facility in the event of an emergency or the rescue or administration of first aid or CPR to a swimmer in distress. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "Swimming during the pandemic: What the CDC wants you to know before you hit the pool," 21 May 2020 Soon, airlines began to offload their hotels: UAL spun off its more than 50 Westin properties in 1985, four years after Pan Am was forced to sell almost 100 Intercontinental hotels to a British hospitality chain in financial distress. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "These Hotel Brands Started as Glamorous Housing for Flight Attendants," 11 May 2020 Does the baby cry in distress when the mother leaves? Diane Cole, Washington Post, "A quest to understand the parent-child bond, driven by a mother’s self-doubt," 8 May 2020 But by the end of April 2020, parents were more likely to be in distress than their childless peers. Jean Twenge, The Conversation, "New study shows staggering effect of coronavirus pandemic on America’s mental health," 7 May 2020 People in distress whose brief, blunt appeals read like private prayers summoning a savior. Los Angeles Times, "On GoFundMe in the time of coronavirus: pleas in the dark for money for food and rent," 2 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 British Embassy officials, many of whom hold Mr. Darroch in high regard, were distressed by the rapid-fire events that led to his decision to resign. Michael R. Gordon, WSJ, "Kim Darroch Resigns as U.K. Ambassador to U.S. After Leaked Cables," 10 July 2019 Photographed by Eylul Aslan Warning: The following includes details that some readers may find distressing. refinery29.com, "My “Perfect” Boyfriend Started Choking Me During Sex," 27 Feb. 2020 Multiple diplomatic sources tell NBC News that the Saudis were distressed by the lack of American support, to the point of reaching out to their arch-rival Iran for back channel diplomacy, through Pakistan. NBC News, "Defending Trump has made Pompeo the most powerful secretary of state in decades," 7 Jan. 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

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Distress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distress. Accessed 1 Jun. 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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Comments on distress

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