Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To cause strain, anxiety, or suffering to. See Synonyms at trouble.
  • transitive v. Law To hold the property of (a person) against the payment of debts.
  • transitive v. To mar or otherwise treat (an object or fabric, for example) to give the appearance of an antique or of heavy prior use: "There are the fakes—new rugs which have been intentionally distressed for an older look” ( Hatfield MA Valley Advocate).
  • transitive v. Archaic To constrain or overcome by harassment.
  • n. Anxiety or mental suffering.
  • n. Severe strain resulting from exhaustion or an accident.
  • n. Acute physical discomfort.
  • n. Physical deterioration, as of a highway, caused by hard use over time: pavement distress.
  • n. The condition of being in need of immediate assistance: a motorist in distress.
  • n. Law The act of distraining or seizing to compel payment.
  • n. Law The goods thus seized.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. discomfort.
  • n. Serious danger.
  • n. A seizing of property without legal process to force payment of a debt.
  • v. To cause strain or anxiety to someone.
  • v. To retain someone’s property against the payment of a debt; to distrain.
  • v. To treat an object, such as an antique, to give it an appearance of age.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Extreme pain or suffering; anguish of body or mind.
  • n. That which occasions suffering; painful situation; misfortune; affliction; misery.
  • n. A state of danger or necessity
  • n.
  • n. The act of distraining; the taking of a personal chattel out of the possession of a wrongdoer, by way of pledge for redress of an injury, or for the performance of a duty, as for nonpayment of rent or taxes, or for injury done by cattle, etc.
  • n. The thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction.
  • transitive v. To cause pain or anguish to; to pain; to oppress with calamity; to afflict; to harass; to make miserable.
  • transitive v. To compel by pain or suffering.
  • transitive v. To seize for debt; to distrain.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To constrain or compel by pain, suffering, or force of circumstances.
  • To afflict with pain, physical or mental; oppress or crush with suffering, misfortune, or calamity; make miserable.
  • In law, to seize for debt; distrain. See distrain, 6.
  • n. Constraint; restraint; forcible control; oppression.
  • n. Compulsion; requirement.
  • n. Pain or suffering of body or mind; great pain, anxiety, or grief.
  • n. In general, a state of suffering or trouble; calamity; adversity; affliction; misery arising from want or misfortune.
  • n. In law : The act of distraining. See distrain, 6.
  • n. The common-law remedy by distraining.
  • n. The thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction.
  • n. In old Scots law, a pledge taken by the sheriff from those who came to fairs or markets for their good behavior, which at their close was delivered back if no harm had been done.
  • n. Synonyms Grief, Sorrow, etc. See affliction.
  • n. Hardship, straits, perplexity.

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

  • n. extreme physical pain
  • v. cause mental pain to
  • v. bring into difficulties or distress, especially financial hardship
  • n. psychological suffering
  • n. the seizure and holding of property as security for payment of a debt or satisfaction of a claim
  • n. a state of adversity (danger or affliction or need)

Etymologies

Middle English distressen, from Old French destresser, from destresse, constraint, from Vulgar Latin *districtia, from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere, to hinder; see distrain.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French destrecier ("to restrain, constrain, put in straits, afflict, distress") (French: détresse), from Medieval Latin as if *districtiare, an assumed frequentive form of Latin distringere ("to pull asunder, stretch out"), from dis- ("apart") + stringere ("to draw tight, strain"). (Wiktionary)

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