Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To seize and hold (property) to compel payment or reparation, as of debts.
  • transitive v. To seize the property of (a person) in order to compel payment of debts; distress.
  • intransitive v. To levy a distress.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To squeeze, press; to constrain, oppress.
  • v. To force (someone) to do something by seizing their property.
  • v. To seize somebody's property in place of, or to force, payment of a debt.
  • v. To pull off, tear apart.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To levy a distress.
  • transitive v. To press heavily upon; to bear down upon with violence; hence, to constrain or compel; to bind; to distress, torment, or afflict.
  • transitive v. To rend; to tear.
  • transitive v.
  • transitive v. To seize, as a pledge or indemnification; to take possession of as security for nonpayment of rent, the reparation of an injury done, etc.; to take by distress.
  • transitive v. To subject to distress; to coerce.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To pull or tear asunder; rend apart.
  • To press with force; bear with force upon; constrain; compel.
  • To restrain; bind; confine.
  • To distress; torment; afflict.
  • To gain or take possession of; seize; secure.
  • In law: To take and withhold (another's chattel), in order to apply it in satisfaction of the distrainor's demand against him, or to hold it until he renders satisfaction.
  • To seize and hold in satisfaction of a demand or claim, or in order to compel the performance of an obligation; seize under judicial process or authority: said of any movable property, or of goods and chattels. See distringas and distress.
  • To make seizure of goods in satisfaction of a claim, or in order to compel the performance of an obligation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. legally take something in place of a debt payment
  • v. levy a distress on
  • v. confiscate by distress

Etymologies

Middle English distreinen, from Old French destreindre, destreign-, from Medieval Latin distringere, distrinct-, from Latin, to hinder : dis-, apart; see dis- + stringere, to draw tight; see streig- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French destraindre, from Latin distringere ("to pull asunder, stretch out, engage, hinder, molest, Medieval Latin also compel, coerce as by exacting a pledge by a fine or by imprisonment"), from dis- ("apart") + stringere ("to draw tight, strain"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • John Upton the Annuity of Forty Shillings out of my said Farme during his life (if till then my Servant) to be paid on Michaelmas day in Lindley each year or else after fourteen days to distrain

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • Feasts equally as above said or else to distrain on the Ground if she be not paid after fourteen days at Lindly as the other some is out of the said Land Item I give to my Servant

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • Lent and Michaelmas or if he be not paid within fourteen Days after the said Feasts to distrain on any part of the Ground or on any of my Lands of Inheritance Item I give to my Sister Katherine Jackson during her life eight pounds per Ann. Annuity to be paid at the two

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • We have been obliged to distrain, as you know; and I wish John Smithies to buy in what he pleases.

    Mary Anerley

  • He declared, that he had given no directions to distrain; and that the bailiff must have done it by his own authority. — ‘If that be the case,’ said the young squire, ‘let the inhuman rascal be turned out of our service.’

    The Life and Adventures of Sir Launcelot Greaves

  • Is it not better to give glory to God by humble confession, than, in tenderness to ourselves, to seek for fig-leaves to cover our nakedness; and to put God to it to build his glory, which we denied him, upon the ruins of our own, which we preferred before him; and to distrain for that by yet sorer judgments which we refused voluntarily to surrender to him?

    The Reformed Pastor

  • Many stoutly refused to pay; and the constables whose duty it was to distrain in such cases manifested great reluctance to proceed to extremities.

    London and the Kingdom - Volume II

  • Who come upon us to distrain -- we pay them back in blows.

    The Reminiscences of an Irish Land Agent

  • The landlord _can at any time distrain_ for his rent; what object, then, would he have in incurring expense, and encountering delay, to procure a decree, which, when obtained, would _only restrict his former power_?

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 55, No. 343, May 1844

  • [39] A landlord requires no such warrant -- he can distrain without any authority.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 55, No. 343, May 1844

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.