• WordNet 3.6
    • v distrain legally take something in place of a debt payment
    • v distrain confiscate by distress
    • v distrain levy a distress on
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • v. i Distrain To levy a distress. "Upon whom I can distrain for debt."
    • Distrain To press heavily upon; to bear down upon with violence; hence, to constrain or compel; to bind; to distress, torment, or afflict. "Distrained with chains."
    • Distrain To rend; to tear. "Neither guile nor force might it [a net distrain ."
    • Distrain (Law) To seize, as a pledge or indemnification; to take possession of as security for nonpayment of rent, the reparation of an injury done, etc.; to take by distress; as, to distrain goods for rent, or of an amercement.
    • Distrain (Law) To subject to distress; to coerce; as, to distrain a person by his goods and chattels.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • distrain To pull or tear asunder; rend apart.
    • distrain To press with force; bear with force upon; constrain; compel.
    • distrain To restrain; bind; confine.
    • distrain To distress; torment; afflict.
    • distrain To gain or take possession of; seize; secure.
    • distrain In law: To take and withhold (another's chattel), in order to apply it in satisfaction of the distrainor's demand against him, or to hold it until he renders satisfaction. The right to distrain was recognized at common law as a private remedy in the nature of a reprisal, by which a person might take the personal property of another into his possession, and hold it as a pledge or security until satisfaction was made, as by the payment of a debt, the discharge of some duty, or as reparation for an injury done, with the right in certain cases to sell it to obtain satisfaction —as in the instance of the impounding of cattle, damage feasant, or the taking by the landlord of the goods and chattels of a tenant while still npon the premises, for the non-payment of rent.
    • distrain To seize and hold in satisfaction of a demand or claim, or in order to compel the performance of an obligation; seize under judicial process or authority: said of any movable property, or of goods and chattels. See distringas and distress.
    • distrain To make seizure of goods in satisfaction of a claim, or in order to compel the performance of an obligation.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • v.t Distrain dis-trān′ to seize, esp. goods for debt, esp. for non-payment of rent or rates
    • v.i Distrain to seize the goods of a debtor
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. destreinen, to force, OF. destreindre, to press, oppress, force, fr. L. distringere, districtum, to draw asunder, hinder, molest, LL., to punish severely; di-, = stringere, to draw tight, press together. See Strain, and cf. Distress District Distraint


In literature:

He said, just now, before he went out, he should send word to Cox to distrain, if Fowler didn't come and pay up his arrears this week.
"Silas Marner" by George Eliot
Received a writ from the Exchequer this morning of distrain for L70,000, which troubled me, though it be but, matter of form.
"Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1667" by Samuel Pepys
Hasn't your landlord distrained for rent?
"Ulysses" by James Joyce
You can't be distrained on, nor levied on, because you're exempt by law.
"The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine, June 1844" by Various
The landlord distrained us for it.
"Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume 17" by Alexander Leighton
His goods may not be distrained, his estates not used as security, and he himself can neither be arrested, nor kept a prisoner.
"Jewish Literature and Other Essays" by Gustav Karpeles
A horse in a cart cannot be distrained, without also taking the cart; and if a man be in the cart, these cannot be taken.
"The Cook and Housekeeper's Complete and Universal Dictionary; Including a System of Modern Cookery, in all Its Various Branches," by Mary Eaton
At last I lost patience, and determined to distrain.
"Ireland as It Is" by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
I'm up to her; she'll be coming here to-morrow, with that devil Thumbscrew, to distrain, I'll be sworn.
"Ten Thousand a-Year. Volume 1." by Samuel Warren
A blessing, a fine blessing forsooth, when one is distrained upon and ejected!
"Tales from the German" by Various

In poetry:

It laid him up for many days,
When duty led him to distrain,
And serving writs, although it pays,
Gave him excruciating pain.
"Baines Carew, Gentleman" by William Schwenck Gilbert
The Sheriffs, and their corm'rant train,
On the fleec'd populace distrain,
And under veil of justice prey
Upon their wealth, in open day.
"A Warning To The Welsh, To Repent, Wrote At The Time A Great Plague Rag'd In London" by Rees Prichard
He made out costs, distrained for rent,
Foreclosed and sued, with moistened eye -
No bill of costs could represent
The value of such sympathy.
"Baines Carew, Gentleman" by William Schwenck Gilbert