Etymology: Middle English destresse, from Anglo-French destresce, from Vulgar Latin *districtia, from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere
Date: 13th century
a. seizure and detention of the goods of another as pledge or to obtain satisfaction of a claim by the sale of the goods seized
b. something that is distrained
a. pain or suffering affecting the body, a bodily part, or the mind ; trouble <gastric distress> b. a painful situation ; misfortune 3. a state of danger or desperate need <a ship in distress> Synonyms: distress, suffering, misery, agony mean the state of being in great trouble. distress implies an external and usually temporary cause of great physical or mental strain and stress <the hurricane put everyone in great distress>. suffering implies conscious endurance of pain or distress <the suffering of famine victims>. misery stresses the unhappiness attending especially sickness, poverty, or loss <the homeless live with misery every day>. agony suggests pain too intense to be borne <in agony over the death of their child>. II. transitive verb Date: 14th century 1. to subject to great strain or difficulties <homes distressed by poverty> 2. archaic to force or overcome by inflicting pain 3. to cause to worry or be troubled ; upset <don't let the news distress you> 4. to mar (as clothing or wood) deliberately to give an effect of age <a distressed table> • distressingly adverb III. adjective Date: 1926 1. offered for sale at a loss <distress merchandise> 2. involving distress goods <a distress sale>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.