tr.v. dis·tressed, dis·tress·ing, dis·tress·es
1. To cause strain, anxiety, or suffering to. See Synonyms at trouble.
2. To mar or otherwise treat (an object or fabric, for example) to give the appearance of an antique or of heavy prior use.
3. Archaic To constrain or overcome by harassment.
1. Anxiety or mental suffering.
a. Bodily dysfunction or discomfort caused by disease or injury: respiratory distress.
b. Physical deterioration, as of a highway, caused by hard use over time: pavement distress.
a. The condition of being in need of immediate assistance: a motorist in distress.
b. Suffering caused by poverty: programs to relieve public distress.
4. Law The act of distraining or seizing goods to compel payment or other satisfaction for a debt or other duty owed; distraint.
[Middle English distressen, from Old French destresser, from destresse, constraint, from Vulgar Latin *districtia, from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere, to hinder; see DISTRAIN.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.