du·ress (d-rĕs, dy-)
a. Compulsion by threat or violence; coercion: confessed under duress.
b. Constraint or difficulty caused by misfortune: "children who needed only temporary care because their parents were ill, out of work, or under some other form of duress" (Stephan O'Connor).
a. A fraud achieved through the use of a threat or compulsion: She had a cause of action for duress. His claim was based on duress.
b. A criminal defense for an act undertaken under threat of serious bodily harm: His defense was duress.
3. Forcible confinement.
[Middle English duresse, harshness, compulsion, from Old French durece, hardness, from Latin dūritia, from dūrus, hard; see deru- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.