Synonyms & Antonyms of distress

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 a state of great suffering of body or mind
  • the upcoming bar exam is causing us considerable distress
  • the survivors were in extreme distress after having been stranded on the island for a week with no food

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2 the state of not being protected from injury, harm, or evil
  • a ship in distress

Synonyms for distress

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Antonyms for distress



Synonyms & Antonyms of distress (Entry 2 of 2)

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Frequently Asked Questions About distress

How does the noun distress differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of distress are agony, misery, and suffering. While all these words 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

When might agony be a better fit than distress?

In some situations, the words agony and distress are roughly equivalent. However, agony suggests pain too intense to be borne.

in agony over the death of their child

When is misery a more appropriate choice than distress?

While in some cases nearly identical to distress, misery stresses the unhappiness attending especially sickness, poverty, or loss.

the homeless live with misery every day

When could suffering be used to replace distress?

The synonyms suffering and distress are sometimes interchangeable, but suffering implies conscious endurance of pain or distress.

the suffering of famine victims

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

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Cite this Entry

“Distress.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on distress

Nglish: Translation of distress for Spanish Speakers

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


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