1 : forcible restraint or restriction
2 : compulsion by threat; specifically : unlawful constraint
Did You Know?
Duress is a word of hardy stock. It has been a part of the English language since the 14th century and has a number of long-lived relatives. Duress itself came into Middle English through the Anglo-French duresce (meaning "hardness" or "severity"), which stems from Latin durus, meaning "hard." Some obvious relatives of this robust root are durable, endure and obdurate (meaning "unyielding" or "hardened in feelings"). Some others are dour (meaning "harsh," "unyielding," or "gloomy") and the preposition during.
"I understand the impulse to marvel at Mr. Mandela's civility and eloquence, even under duress. How, it's easy to wonder, could a man form such generous, brilliant philosophies in the face of cruelty and injustice?" — Tayari Jones, The New York Times, 6 July 2018
"It's a pattern that runs throughout history. People assume they can pollute for free until the pollution builds up and becomes a serious problem. Then—under duress—they start paying for the trouble." — Nathanael Johnson, Grist, 3 July 2018
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