a state of extreme necessity or misfortune: After the stock market crash, he found himself in great financial distress.
the state of a ship or airplane requiring immediate assistance, as when on fire in transit.
that which causes pain, suffering, trouble, danger, etc.: His willful disobedience was a distress to his parents.
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.
afflicted with or suffering distress: distress livestock; distress wheat.
caused by or indicative of distress or hardship: distress prices; distress borrowing.
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: Her faithlessness distressed him into ending their marriage.
to dent, scratch, or stain (furniture, lumber, or the like) so as to give an appearance of age: She used an old bicycle chain to distress the surface of the table before applying a deep stain.
- dis·tress·ing·ly, adverb
- pre·dis·tress, noun, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use distress in a sentence
Their failure to act was unacceptable and affected hundreds of thousands of people, which may have caused some anxiety and distress as a result.UK’s ICO reduces British Airways data breach fine to £20M, after originally setting it at £184M | Ingrid Lunden | October 16, 2020 | TechCrunch
Sometimes it’s even a sign that the tree is in distress, Aiello says.
It’s addressing the economic distress that I’ve seen growing up in very disenfranchised neighborhoods in Minneapolis.Ilhan Omar: Capitalism Cannot Deliver Social Justice | Nick Fouriezos | October 1, 2020 | Ozy
Carrying a whistle in your survival kit can signal your distress to others, day or night, as long as you have breath to blow it.
Stay put, build a camp, signal your distress and wait for help.
Surely all this graphic talk of gastrointestinal distress is making you queasy.
After all, what says Christmas more than obligations, gastrointestinal distress, and insane dining companions?
I inherited the Arnold Family Thunder ThighsTM, which was a source of frequent teasing and distress for me as a child.
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’ | Kevin Fallon | November 28, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
This workforce is being legalized at a time of unusual economic distress for the working class.Legal but Still Poor: The Economic Consequences of Amnesty | Joel Kotkin | November 21, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The look of distress had vanished, and his sincere eyes seemed to shine again with courage and with strength.Bella Donna | Robert Hichens
Her face wore a look of distress, almost of alarm; she kept her place, but her eyes gave Bernard a mute welcome.Confidence | Henry James
Finally, his predicament became so awkward that an expression of distress crept into his face.The Homesteader | Oscar Micheaux
In fact, in two places some of our men cried out in distress that we were all lost.
It seemed quite the forlornest hope I had ever heard of, but Jack's distress was so acute that I hadn't the heart to refuse.Uncanny Tales | Various
British Dictionary definitions for distress
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
- distressful, adjective
- distressfully, adverb
- distressfulness, noun
- distressing, adjective, noun
- distressingly, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012