Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To cause strain, anxiety, or suffering to. synonym: trouble.
  • transitive verb To mar or otherwise treat (an object or fabric, for example) to give the appearance of an antique or of heavy prior use.
  • transitive verb Archaic To constrain or overcome by harassment.
  • noun Anxiety or mental suffering.
  • noun Bodily dysfunction or discomfort caused by disease or injury.
  • noun Physical deterioration, as of a highway, caused by hard use over time.
  • noun The condition of being in need of immediate assistance.
  • noun Suffering caused by poverty.
  • noun Law The act of distraining or seizing goods to compel payment or other satisfaction for a debt or other duty owed; distraint.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Constraint; restraint; forcible control; oppression.
  • noun Compulsion; requirement.
  • noun Pain or suffering of body or mind; great pain, anxiety, or grief.
  • noun In general, a state of suffering or trouble; calamity; adversity; affliction; misery arising from want or misfortune.
  • noun In law : The act of distraining. See distrain, 6.
  • noun The common-law remedy by distraining.
  • noun The thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Synonyms Grief, Sorrow, etc. See affliction.
  • noun Hardship, straits, perplexity.
  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To cause pain or anguish to; to pain; to oppress with calamity; to afflict; to harass; to make miserable.
  • transitive verb To compel by pain or suffering.
  • transitive verb (Law) To seize for debt; to distrain.
  • noun Extreme pain or suffering; anguish of body or mind.
  • noun That which occasions suffering; painful situation; misfortune; affliction; misery.
  • noun A state of danger or necessity
  • noun 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.
  • noun The thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction.
  • noun (Law) See under Abuse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").

Examples

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