[ stres ]
/ strɛs /


verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to experience stress or worry: Don't stress about the turkey; I promise it will be delicious. Dad is always stressing out over his job.



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Origin of stress

1275–1325; (noun) Middle English stresse, aphetic variant of distresse distress; (v.) derivative of the noun



accent stress

Definition for stress (2 of 2)


a feminine equivalent of -ster: seamstress; songstress.

Origin of -stress Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for stress

British Dictionary definitions for stress (1 of 2)

/ (strɛs) /



Derived forms of stress

stressful, adjectivestressfully, adverbstressfulness, noun

Word Origin for stress

C14: stresse, shortened from distress

British Dictionary definitions for stress (2 of 2)


suffix forming nouns

indicating a woman who performs or is engaged in a certain activitysongstress; seamstress Compare -ster (def. 1)

Word Origin for -stress

from -st (e) r + -ess
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

Medical definitions for stress

[ strĕs ]


An applied force or system of forces that tends to strain or deform a body.
The resisting force set up in a body as a result of an externally applied force.
A physical or psychological stimulus that can produce mental tension or physiological reactions that may lead to illness.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for stress

[ strĕs ]

The force per unit area applied to an object. Objects subject to stress tend to become distorted or deformed. Compare strain. See also axial stress shear stress. See more at Hooke's law.
  1. A physiologic reaction by an organism to an uncomfortable or unfamiliar physical or psychological stimulus. Biological changes result from stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, including a heightened state of alertness, anxiety, increased heart rate, and sweating.
  2. The stimulus or circumstance causing such a reaction.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for stress (1 of 2)


In physics, the internal resistance of an object to an external force that tends to deform it.

Cultural definitions for stress (2 of 2)


A physical factor, such as injury, or mental state, such as anxiety, that disturbs the body's normal state of functioning. Stress may contribute to the development of some illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.

notes for stress

The term stress also refers to the physical and mental state produced in the body when it is influenced by such factors: “The stress of the new job was too much for Tim, so he requested reassignment to his old position in the company.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.