\ ˈstres How to pronounce stress (audio) \

Definition of stress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : constraining force or influence: such as
a : a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part especially : the intensity of this mutual force commonly expressed in pounds per square inch
b : the deformation caused in a body by such a force
c : a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation
d : a state resulting from a stress especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium job-related stress
e : strain, pressure the environment is under stress to the point of collapse— Joseph Shoben
2 : emphasis, weight lay stress on a point
3 archaic : intense effort or exertion
4 : intensity of utterance given to a speech sound, syllable, or word producing relative loudness
5a : relative force or prominence of sound in verse
b : a syllable having relative force or prominence


stressed; stressing; stresses

Definition of stress (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to subject to physical or psychological stress stressing the equipment this traffic is stressing me out
2 : to subject to phonetic stress : accent
3 : to lay stress on : emphasize stressed the importance of teamwork

intransitive verb

: to feel stress stressing about the big exam often used with out

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Synonyms for stress

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of stress in a Sentence

Noun She uses meditation as a way of reducing stress. Hormones are released into the body in response to emotional stress. She is dealing with the stresses of working full-time and going to school. He talked about the stresses and strains of owning a business. Carrying a heavy backpack around all day puts a lot of stress on your shoulders and back. To reduce the amount of stress on your back, bend your knees when you lift something heavy. The ship's mast snapped under the stress of high winds. measuring the effects of stresses on the material Verb The union stressed the need for stricter safety standards. The risks involved in the procedure should be stressed. Some people stress the second syllable of “harassment,” while others stress the first. When she said, “We need lots of money,” she stressed the word “lots.” It's not an important decision and it isn't worth stressing over.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect. Jason Bruck, The Conversation, "With the help of trained dolphins, our team of researchers is building a specialized drone to help us study dolphins in the wild," 1 July 2020 Normally, you are used to sewing as a form of stress relief and a creative outlet. Washington Post, "The pandemic-fueled demand for masks has reignited interest in an age-old skill," 1 July 2020 Going home on weekends is a big stress reliever, but each Monday Brookshire’s children hold onto him and beg him not to leave for another week. Dallas News, "Inside Parkland COVID unit, caregivers’ fatigue and mental strain grow as ‘more are dying than ever’," 1 July 2020 Affordable, high-quality child care is good for gender equality, good for parents’ household budgets and stress levels, and good for the economy. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "Child Care Is Infrastructure," 30 June 2020 The reasons are twofold: for stress relief and for food. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, "The best edible plants you can actually grow indoors: Which ones are worth it?," 29 June 2020 Until the pandemic is over, Lady Arwen Wilson recommended people turn to exercise, meditation, reading and other forms of stress relief. Scott Huddleston,, "Festival in San Antonio seeks to be model for safety during coronavirus pandemic," 28 June 2020 Later in the day, the central bank released the results of its 2020 stress tests, meant to evaluate how the country’s largest financial institutions would cope with adverse economic conditions. Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune, "Big banks are at a crossroads: Safe enough to skirt some regulation, but risky enough to stress out the Fed," 27 June 2020 Along with its regular annual stress tests, the Fed made a special announcement that, for at least another quarter, large banks will be barred from making any share repurchases and face limits on dividend payouts. Aaron Back, WSJ, "Wells Fargo Gets Dinged, but Others Might Follow," 25 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But epidemiologists stress that deaths are a lagging indicator, so the increases in cases and hospitalizations in these 2020 battlegrounds bear watching. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Republicans fear virus spikes in key states for Trump," 1 July 2020 Health officials stress that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing and frequent hand washing. Jessica Flores, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus updates: More states close bars, slow reopening plans; Gilead Sciences sets price for remdesivir treatments," 29 June 2020 Most temporary wallpaper brands stress that it should be installed only on smooth surfaces; ideally, a wall painted with a smooth finish such as eggshell, satin, or semigloss paint. Elizabeth Sweet, Better Homes & Gardens, "Sunny Removable Wallpaper Patterns for a Fast Summer Room Refresh," 29 June 2020 Listed at 6-3, 263 pounds, Wake utilizes a great get-off to stress an offensive tackle’s pass set, refined hand technique to soften the corner and a unique ability to corner and flatten at the apex of his rush. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 free agents who could still improve the Cowboys’ roster, including this immovable object at nose tackleThis article has comments enabled.," 26 June 2020 The mandates stress education first, followed by enforcement for continued offenders. Lorraine Longhi, The Arizona Republic, "Scottsdale nightclub Riot House charged for failing to enforce social distancing, mask requirements," 25 June 2020 Those numbers more than doubled the week beginning May 31, to 15, but public officials stress that new cases remain small compared to the county’s population of 812,000. oregonlive, "Despite rising virus caseloads, wide racial disparities, Multnomah County has low hospitalizations and healthcare capacity that justify reopening, officials say," 19 June 2020 Ironically, spraying weed killer on the suckers might easily stress the tree, initiating more suckers. oregonlive, "For help identifying flowery shoots popping up in the yard, ask an expert," 20 June 2020 Health officials stress the importance of hospitalization rates and number of deaths over the number of positive cases. Fox News, "As states see coronavirus surges, health officials say combination of factors responsible," 20 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stress.' 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 stress


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1545, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for stress


Middle English stresse stress, distress, short for destresse — more at distress

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Time Traveler for stress

Time Traveler

The first known use of stress was in the 14th century

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Statistics for stress

Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Stress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for stress


How to pronounce stress (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of stress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.
: something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety
: physical force or pressure



English Language Learners Definition of stress (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give special attention to (something)
: to pronounce (a syllable or word) in a louder or more forceful way than other syllables or words
US, informal : to feel very worried or anxious about something : to feel stress


\ ˈstres How to pronounce stress (audio) \

Kids Definition of stress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a force that tends to change the shape of an object
2 : something that causes physical or emotional tension : a state of tension resulting from a stress She felt the stress of working two jobs.
3 : special importance given to something The speaker laid stress on a particular point.
4 : relative loudness or force of a part of a spoken word or a beat in music “Finally” has the stress on the first syllable.


stressed; stressing

Kids Definition of stress (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to subject to excessive use or to forces that cause a change in shape Hard use was stressing the equipment.
2 : to cause or experience physical or emotional tension All these changes are stressing me.
3 : to pronounce (part of a word) with relative loudness or force Stress the first syllable.
4 : to give special importance to : emphasize He stressed the need to save energy.


\ ˈstres How to pronounce stress (audio) \

Medical Definition of stress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part especially : the intensity of this mutual force commonly expressed in pounds per square inch
b : the deformation caused in a body by such a force
2a : a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation
b : a state of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium
3 : the force exerted between teeth of the upper and lower jaws during mastication

Medical Definition of stress (Entry 2 of 2)

: to subject to stress a patient stressed by surgery

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