stress out

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Subject to or undergo extreme pressure or strain, as from working. For example, I badly need a vacation; I'm just plain stressed out from this job and its aggravations. The verb stress has meant “afflict with hardship” or “distress” since the 16th century, but the phrase stress out, alluding to psychological stress, dates only from the 1940s.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.


What does stress out mean?

Stress out means to cause someone to experience emotional stress, especially by being a repeated source of it, as in You’re really stressing me out by bringing up this topic over and over again.

The adjective stressed-out means experiencing a lot of stress. Someone described as stressed-out has been stressed out by someone or something (or, as is often the case, by a combination of different factors). The adjective stressed can mean the same thing. Both terms often imply that the level of stress is intense or higher than usual—that stress has built up and is becoming hard to deal with.

Stress out can also mean to experience stress. This sense of the word is often followed by the word about and the thing causing the stress, as in Don’t stress out about the meeting—it’s not a big deal.

Example: The week of final exams always stresses out my students, so I always remind them to practice self-care.

Where does stress out come from?

The first records of the phrasal verb stress out come from around the 1940s, and the adjective form stressed-out came later. In both terms, the word out can be thought of as meaning something like “thoroughly” or “completely.” It’s used in similar ways in other informal verbs involving deterioration of emotional, mental, or physical states, such as freak out, wear out, and burn out.

Saying that something is stressing you out usually means that the stress has accumulated. This can be from things that have already happened or that are happening or from worries about things that will or might happen. The variety of different things that can stress someone out is unlimited.

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What are some other forms related to stress out?

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How is stress out used in real life?

Stress out is informal and very common. It can be used in all kinds of situations.


Try using stress out!

Which of the following terms can be thought of as an antonym (opposite) of stress out?

A. work up
B. burn out
C. calm down
D. tired out

How to use stress out in a sentence