• WordNet 3.6
    • v distress cause mental pain to "The news of her child's illness distressed the mother"
    • v distress bring into difficulties or distress, especially financial hardship
    • n distress the seizure and holding of property as security for payment of a debt or satisfaction of a claim "Originally distress was a landlord's remedy against a tenant for unpaid rents or property damage but now the landlord is given a landlord's lien"
    • n distress psychological suffering "the death of his wife caused him great distress"
    • n distress extreme physical pain "the patient appeared to be in distress"
    • n distress a state of adversity (danger or affliction or need) "a ship in distress","she was the classic maiden in distress"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

The Signal of Distress that was Never Seen The Signal of Distress that was Never Seen
Distressed Mother Distressed Mother
A man, made poor by agricultural distress, selling something to a happy money lender in order to pay his rent A man, made poor by agricultural distress, selling something to a happy money lender in order to pay his rent

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The first British ship to use the SOS distress signal was the Titanic
    • Distress A state of danger or necessity; as, a ship in distress, from leaking, loss of spars, want of provisions or water, etc.
    • Distress Extreme pain or suffering; anguish of body or mind; as, to suffer distress from the gout, or from the loss of friends. "Not fearing death nor shrinking for distress ."
    • Distress That which occasions suffering; painful situation; misfortune; affliction; misery. "Affliction's sons are brothers in distress ."
    • Distress (Law) The act of distraining; the taking of a personal chattel out of the possession of a wrongdoer, by way of pledge for redress of an injury, or for the performance of a duty, as for nonpayment of rent or taxes, or for injury done by cattle, etc.
    • Distress (Law) The thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction.
    • Distress To cause pain or anguish to; to pain; to oppress with calamity; to afflict; to harass; to make miserable. "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed ."
    • Distress To compel by pain or suffering. "Men who can neither be distressed nor won into a sacrifice of duty."
    • Distress (Law) To seize for debt; to distrain.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: David Sarnoff received the Titanic's distress signal and saved hundreds of passengers. He later became the head of the first radio network, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
    • distress To constrain or compel by pain, suffering, or force of circumstances.
    • distress To afflict with pain, physical or mental; oppress or crush with suffering, misfortune, or calamity; make miserable.
    • distress In law, to seize for debt; distrain. See distrain, 6. Synonyms Trouble, Harass, etc. See afflict.
    • n distress Constraint; restraint; forcible control; oppression.
    • n distress Compulsion; requirement.
    • n distress Pain or suffering of body or mind; great pain, anxiety, or grief.
    • n distress In general, a state of suffering or trouble; calamity; adversity; affliction; misery arising from want or misfortune.
    • n distress In law : The act of distraining. See distrain, 6.
    • n distress The common-law remedy by distraining.
    • n distress The thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction.
    • n distress In old Scots law, a pledge taken by the sheriff from those who came to fairs or markets for their good behavior, which at their close was delivered back if no harm had been done.
    • n distress Synonyms Grief, Sorrow, etc. See affliction.
    • n distress Hardship, straits, perplexity.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The Cunard liner SS Slavonia was the first ship to use an SOS distress call, on 10 June 1909. It was not the Titanic, as many people believe.
    • n Distress dis-tres′ extreme pain: that which causes suffering: calamity: misfortune:
    • v.t Distress to afflict with pain or suffering: to harass: to grieve: to distrain
    • n Distress dis-tres′ (arch.) compulsion: act of distraining goods
    • ***


  • Gesser
    “Forget the times of your distress, but never forget what they taught you.”
  • Princess of Wales Diana
    “Whoever is in the distress can call me. I will come running wherever they are.”
  • Horace Mann
    “To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is Godlike.”
  • Seneca
    “Even if it is to be, what end do you serve by running to distress?”
  • W. Somerset Maugham
    “The world is quickly bored by the recital of misfortune, and willing avoids the sight of distress.”
  • Oliver Goldsmith
    “The mind is ever ingenious in making its own distress.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. destresse, distresse, OF. destresse, destrece, F. détresse, OF. destrecier, to distress, (assumed) LL. districtiare, fr. L. districtus, p. p. of distringere,. See Distrain, and cf. Stress
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. destresse—L. distringĕre, districtum, to pull asunder.


In literature:

This distress for bread continued till July.
"Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson" by Thomas Jefferson
His disease and his distress were making him fairly childish, now he realized a supporting love beside him.
"By the Light of the Soul" by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
He was very much distressed: we were all.
"Romance" by Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
Mrs. Eliott looked distressed.
"The Helpmate" by May Sinclair
In this inexpressible distress, and when a rapid advance seemed to be our only mean of safety, our guide stopped in uncertainty and agitation.
"History of the Expedition to Russia" by Count Philip de Segur
I'll want him out at the distress-torp tests this afternoon.
"Operation: Outer Space" by William Fitzgerald Jenkins
Dodd looked and saw his distress.
"Great Sea Stories" by Various
I am quite distressed not to have any better place to offer you, but I cannot help it.
"A Crooked Path" by Mrs. Alexander
Parents should not put off the employment of a competent specialist in this terrible, distressing, and fatal disease.
"The People's Common Sense Medical Adviser in Plain English" by R. V. Pierce
I don't like to see such things; they distress me, and I don't forget them.
"John Ward, Preacher" by Margaret Deland

In poetry:

Weighing each sin and wickedness
With so much equity,
Proportioning of thy distress
And woful misery.
"Of Judgement" by John Bunyan
In Zion God is known,
A refuge in distress;
How bright has his salvation shone
Through all her palaces!
"Psalm 48 part 1" by Isaac Watts
We thank Thee, Lord,
That of Thy tender grace,
In our distress
Thou hast not left us wholly comfortless.
"We Thank Thee, Lord" by John Oxenham
Tell her that I should live
Not quite so sore distressed,
If she to you would give
A throne upon her breast.
"Song" by Alfred Austin
The helpless in thee found relief;
And the distress'd
Of every kind, though torn by grief,
Pronounce thee bless'd!
"In Memoriam, On The Late Right Reverend Richard Allen, First Bishop Of The A. M. E. Church" by Benjamin Cutler Clark
Dread Mother of Forgetfulness
Who, when Thy reign begins,
Wipest away the Soul's distress,
And memory of her sins.
"The Hymn to Physical Pain" by Rudyard Kipling

In news:

Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
Nasopharyngeal glioma causing respiratory distress in a neonate : Transoral endoscopic excision.
And like anyone dealing with sensitive matters of life and death, they witnessed their share of distress.
AT 2 am, the neonatal fellow at Schneider Children's Hospital of Long Island Jewish Medical Center received a phone call that a newborn baby at a nearby hospital was in respiratory distress.
Howard Marks helped found Oaktree Capital Management and has worked to make it one of the largest distressed-debt firms around.
Howard Marks established Oaktree as a leader in distressed debt.
How May Distressed-Debt Investors Benefit from Market Slumps.
One well known postoperative complication is respiratory distress.
Fans of World's Fastest Ocean Liner Put Out a Distress Call.
A Charlotte County Sheriff's Marine Patrol boat found a 31-foot sailboat 10 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico off Stump Pass after receiving a call at 6:19 am Monday about a lone boat captain in distress.
In 2011, 28 percent of the funds closed are targeting debt, 17 percent are looking for distressed assets, 25 percent are opportunist , 17 percent are value-added.
Investors searching for distressed big-box deals are facing competition from an unlikely source — retailers.
When Nicole Santamorena was a baby she pulled her hair for comfort when she was distressed or sick.
No one's completely certain what causes premenstrual syndrome ( PMS ), but there's no denying the pain and distress millions of women suffer 7-10 days before menstruation every month.
Postal Service worker Bill Richards is credited with helping save a small child during a medical distress incident last week.

In science:

If you’re not concerned about the fact that your bridges in theory will eventually fall down because of thermal crack nucleation, perhaps the associated non-convergence of Hooke’s law shouldn’t distress you.
Formal Considerations about Fracture: Nucleation and Growth
Currency and banking crises: The early warnings of distress.
How to grow a bubble: A model of myopic adapting agents
Van der Kruit (private communication) suggests that the Westerbork group have indeed failed to detect it, which may cause some relief to those distressed by the above discussion.
The radio background: radio-loud galaxies at high and low redshifts
Quite independently of the quantitative relevance of such instant propagation effect in this particular example – which is none in practice –, its very existence is conceptual ly distressing.
The detection of Gravitational Waves
Appropriate measures were taken to minimize pain and distress of animals used in this study. A total of 349 male Sprague-Dawley rats (CENPALAB, Havana, Cuba) weighing 270-320 g at the time of surgery were used in the present study.
Post-ischaemic treatment with the cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor nimesulide reduces blood-brain barrier disruption and leukocyte infiltration following transient focal cerebral ischaemia in rats