• synonyms


[doo-res, dyoo-, door-is, dyoor-]
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  1. compulsion by threat or force; coercion; constraint.
  2. Law. such constraint or coercion as will render void a contract or other legal act entered or performed under its influence.
  3. forcible restraint, especially imprisonment.
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Origin of duress

1275–1325; Middle English duresse < Middle French duresse, -esce, -ece < Latin dūritia hardness, harshness, oppression, equivalent to dūr(us) hard + -itia -ice


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1. intimidation, pressure, bullying, browbeating.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for duress


  1. compulsion by use of force or threat; constraint; coercion (often in the phrase under duress)
  2. law the illegal exercise of coercion
  3. confinement; imprisonment
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Word Origin

C14: from Old French duresse, from Latin dūritia hardness, from dūrus hard
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

Word Origin and History for duress


early 14c., "harsh or severe treatment," from Old French duresse, from Latin duritia "hardness," from durus "hard" (see endure). The Old French suffix -esse is from Latin -itia, added to adjectives to form nouns of quality (cf. riches, largesse). Sense of "coercion, compulsion" is from 1590s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper