- great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction; trouble.
- a state of extreme necessity or misfortune.
- the state of a ship or airplane requiring immediate assistance, as when on fire in transit.
- that which causes pain, suffering, trouble, danger, etc.
- liability or exposure to pain, suffering, trouble, etc.; danger: a damsel in distress.
- the legal seizure and detention of the goods of another as security or satisfaction for debt, etc.; the act of distraining.
- the thing seized in distraining.
- to dent, scratch, or stain (furniture, lumber, or the like) so as to give an appearance of age.
- afflicted with or suffering distress: distress livestock; distress wheat.
- caused by or indicative of distress or hardship: distress prices; distress borrowing.
- to afflict with great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; trouble; worry; bother.
- to subject to pressure, stress, or strain; embarrass or exhaust by strain: to be distressed by excessive work.
- to compel by pain or force of circumstances: His suffering distressed him into committing suicide.
Origin of distress
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for distress
I inherited the Arnold Family Thunder ThighsTM, which was a source of frequent teasing and distress for me as a child.You’re Never ‘Cured’ of an Eating Disorder
December 20, 2014
Not only, in the rarest of cases, where there a female lead in a blockbuster action movie, but the damsel in distress was a dude.Team Peeta or Team Gale: Why the ‘Hunger Games’ Love Triangle Ruins ‘Mockingjay – Part 1’
November 28, 2014
Is it that the communication of joy has no survival value for us, while the communication of distress has?Knocking on Heaven's Door: True Stories of Unexplained, Uncanny Experiences at the Hour of Death
August 11, 2014
Watching the game, I realized that I was in distress and asked for help.The Warlord Who Defines Afghanistan: An Excerpt From Bruce Riedel’s ’What We Won’
July 27, 2014
Ramis and Aykroyd want it both ways: an empowered heroine, and the standard damsel in distress.The Scathing Sexual Politics of ‘Ghostbusters’
June 7, 2014
She put her arms about her neck, and affectionately inquired the cause of her distress.
Milza endeavoured, in her own artless way, to soothe the distress her words had excited.
The horses have not had any water for two days, and show signs of distress.Explorations in Australia
The government admitted the distress, but denied that it was increasing.The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
I was alone with God, and prayed to him for help in my distress, and for direction.Biography of a Slave
- to cause mental pain to; upset badly
- (usually passive) to subject to financial or other trouble
- to damage (esp furniture), as by scratching or denting it, in order to make it appear older than it is
- law a less common word for distrain
- archaic to compel
- mental pain; anguish
- the act of distressing or the state of being distressed
- physical or financial trouble
- in distress (of a ship, aircraft, etc) in dire need of help
- the seizure and holding of property as security for payment of or in satisfaction of a debt, claim, etc; distraint
- the property thus seized
- US(as modifier)distress merchandise
Word Origin and History for distress
late 13c., "circumstance that causes anxiety or hardship," from Old French destresse, from Vulgar Latin *districtia "restraint, affliction, narrowness, distress," from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere "draw apart, hinder," also, in Medieval Latin "compel, coerce," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + stringere "draw tight, press together" (see strain (v.)). Meaning "anguish, suffering; grief" is from c.1300.
- Mental or physical suffering or anguish.
- Severe strain resulting from exhaustion or trauma.