- 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 distressing
The girls send a cry for help…the situation of these girls is distressing.Jihadis Release New Year’s Eve Video of Italian Female Hostages
Jamie Dettmer, Barbie Latza Nadeau
January 2, 2015
In one of the most distressing events of the year, nerd entitlement hit 100.10 Things That Made Us Want to Turn Off the Internet Forever in 2014
The Daily Beast
December 15, 2014
The health care workers, too, face “distressing” conditions.CDC: 'Window Is Closing' on Containing Ebola
September 2, 2014
The current lack of available Simpsons clips online is distressing.A 200-Hour ‘Simpsons’ Marathon? That’s Unpossible!
July 24, 2014
What is distressing, however, is that our political system does not work that way.The Supreme Court Has Given Us a Government Of, By, and For the 1 Percent
Geoffrey R. Stone
June 3, 2014
There, I thought I'd reveal the distressing truth about myself while I had you at my mercy.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
Certainly it's the most distressing thing that ever has occurred for me.Her Father's Daughter
If that be the case, I wish he commanded this distressing scene instead of me.The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson
Some days—and these were the most distressing of all—an opaque veil of smoke enveloped Paris.My Double Life
It is amazing to me what your relations can mean by distressing you, as they seem resolved to do.Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)
- 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 distressing
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.