\ ˈstres \

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

pressure, strain, tension

Synonyms: Verb

bother, fear, fret, fuss, stew, sweat, trouble, worry

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Examples of stress in a Sentence


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


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

Follow this eight-week guide for a stress-free move. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Follow This Weekly Moving Checklist for a Smooth, Stress-Free Transition," 5 Dec. 2018 Frequent yoga and meditation sessions to relieve stress. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 Nobody in the outside world was aware of this because Thompson, even in the most trying of times, doesn’t exactly reek of stress. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, "A dynasty secured," 13 June 2018 According to PetMD, dirty litter boxes, the type of litter used, mounting stress, or various medical issues, including urinary tract infections and diabetes, may be to blame. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "How to Get Rid of That Cat Pee Smell on Carpets, Wood, and Upholstery," 17 Dec. 2018 Employees in their 20s report higher rates of stress, anxiety and depression than other age groups, ComPsych says. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Benefits (and Risks) of the Mental-Health Day," 17 Dec. 2018 With that growth came more required work hours, more travel, more stress, but also a great amount of joy, excitement, and pride. Marie Tillman, Marie Claire, "Why I Started My Business While on Maternity Leave," 13 Dec. 2018 On top of all the future-thinking stress, Anna and her classmates have to prep for the school's annual Christmas show that night. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Anna and the Apocalypse: A zombie-Christmas-high school musical can’t be this good," 1 Dec. 2018 To reduce the stress on the corners, Apple notched the internal corner of the battery. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "iFixit’s iPhone XS and XS Max teardown: Like the iPhone X with a couple surprises," 21 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Judi stresses that there are two very important people who make their program a success: the seamstresses and the people who donate their wedding dresses. Kate Bennis, Good Housekeeping, "These Angel Gowns Bring Comfort to Grieving Families," 26 Dec. 2018 Boerhaave stressed the importance of ascertaining complete medical histories in conjunction with completing autopsies. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The Complete History of the Autopsy," 26 Dec. 2018 As her time in the House comes to a close, Love has repeatedly stressed a message for her party: ignore voters of color at your own peril. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Mia Love and Tim Scott want the GOP to reach out to minority voters. The party is doing the opposite.," 12 Dec. 2018 The two have stressed that the fundraiser wasn’t organized solely for collecting donations. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's how you can help a Vietnam War veteran who became paralyzed after falling down stairs," 3 July 2018 Officials have stressed this is the final deadline and families should find long-term accommodations. Bianca Padró Ocasio,, "Vouchers for displaced Puerto Rican families expire Saturday. Here's how many are still staying in local hotels.," 26 June 2018 In addition, the developer has stressed that the project will feature custom-style homes with varied designs so the new neighborhood won’t resemble tract housing. David Garrick,, "Pacific Beach residents fighting project they say isn't dense enough," 25 June 2018 The Cubs have stressed patience in handling the rehabilitation of Yu Darvish’s triceps tendinitis, and their concern for Mike Montgomery’s left arm could play a major role in the sculpting of their bullpen for the second half of the season. Mark Gonzales,, "Mike Montgomery's performance raises possibility of six-man rotation for Cubs," 20 June 2018 China has stressed that a high-level official at the opening would jeopardise talks on trade as well as co-operation over North Korea. The Economist, "China fights Taiwan on airline websites," 14 June 2018

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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Learn More about stress

Statistics for stress

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for stress

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

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More Definitions for stress



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

: to feel very worried or anxious about something : to feel stress


\ ˈstres \

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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on stress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stress

Spanish Central: Translation of stress

Nglish: Translation of stress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of stress for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about stress

Comments on stress

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