What does distress mean?

Definitions for distress

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word distress.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. distress, hurt, sufferingnoun

    psychological suffering

    "the death of his wife caused him great distress"

  2. distressnoun

    a state of adversity (danger or affliction or need)

    "a ship in distress"; "she was the classic maiden in distress"

  3. distressnoun

    extreme physical pain

    "the patient appeared to be in distress"

  4. distress, distraintverb

    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"

  5. straiten, distressverb

    bring into difficulties or distress, especially financial hardship

  6. distressverb

    cause mental pain to

    "The news of her child's illness distressed the mother"


  1. distressnoun

    (Cause of) discomfort.

  2. distressnoun

    Serious danger.

  3. distressnoun

    A seizing of property without legal process to force payment of a debt.

  4. distressverb

    To cause strain or anxiety to someone.

  5. distressverb

    To retain someone's property against the payment of a debt; to distrain.

  6. distressverb

    To treat an object, such as an antique, to give it an appearance of age.

    She distressed the new media cabinet so that it fit with the other furniture in the room.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. DISTRESSnoun

    Etymology: destresse, French.

    When any one was indebted to another, he would first demand his debt; and, if he were not paid, he would straight go and take a distress of his goods and cattle, where he could find them, to the value, which he would keep ’till he were satisfied. Edmund Spenser, State of Ireland.

    Quoth she, some say the soul’s secure
    Against distress and forfeiture. Hudibras, p. iii. cant. 1.

    There can I sit alone, unseen of any,
    And to the nightingale’s complaining notes
    Tune my distresses, and record my woes William Shakespeare.

    There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring. Luke xxi. 25.

    People in affliction or distress cannot be hated by generous minds. Clarissa.

  2. To Distressverb

    Etymology: from the noun.

    Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle. Deutr. ii. 9.

    I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan. 2 Sa. i. 26.


  1. distress

    Distress is a state of extreme emotional suffering, anxiety, or sorrow, often due to adverse circumstances, events, or situations. It can also refer to physical pain or a condition of danger or desperate need.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Distressnoun

    extreme pain or suffering; anguish of body or mind; as, to suffer distress from the gout, or from the loss of friends

  2. Distressnoun

    that which occasions suffering; painful situation; misfortune; affliction; misery

  3. Distressnoun

    a state of danger or necessity; as, a ship in distress, from leaking, loss of spars, want of provisions or water, etc

  4. Distressnoun

    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

  5. Distressnoun

    the thing taken by distraining; that which is seized to procure satisfaction

  6. Distressnoun

    to cause pain or anguish to; to pain; to oppress with calamity; to afflict; to harass; to make miserable

  7. Distressnoun

    to compel by pain or suffering

  8. Distressnoun

    to seize for debt; to distrain


  1. Distress

    Distress is a 1995 science fiction novel by Australian writer Greg Egan.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Distress

    dis-tres′, n. extreme pain: that which causes suffering: calamity: misfortune: (arch.) compulsion: act of distraining goods.—v.t. to afflict with pain or suffering: to harass: to grieve: to distrain.—p.adj. Distressed′.—adj. Distress′ful.—adv. Distress′fully.—n. Distress′fulness.—p.adj. Distress′ing.—adv. Distress′ingly. [O. Fr. destresse—L. distringĕre, districtum, to pull asunder.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. distress

    A term used when a ship requires immediate assistance from unlooked-for damage or danger. (See SIGNAL OF DISTRESS.)

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'distress' in Nouns Frequency: #2292

How to pronounce distress?

How to say distress in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of distress in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of distress in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of distress in a Sentence

  1. Thomas Paine:

    The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

  2. Confucius:

    The superior man is satisfied and composed the mean man is always full of distress.

  3. Neighbor Akono Ekundayo:

    Gosh, it was right under our nose. We could have done something, but he was never in distress, it didn't seem like.

  4. The High:

    While the unborn child is not yet in distress, it is facing into a 'perfect storm' from which it has no realistic prospect of emerging alive. It has nothing but distress and death in prospect.

  5. Catherine Stubberfield:

    The state in which a boat in distress is first identified bears the primary responsibility for providing or ensuring a place of safety, uNHCR is deeply concerned by recent delays in rescue and disembarkation for refugees in distress at sea.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for distress

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • nødsituation, ubehagDanish
  • Notlage, Seenot, bedrücken, Kummer, NotGerman
  • αγωνία, συμφορά, αναστατώνω, κατάσχω, κίνδυνος, συντριβή, θλίβω, στενοχωρώGreek
  • peligro, ansiedad, apuroSpanish
  • hätäFinnish
  • détresseFrench
  • cráighIrish
  • aircScottish Gaelic
  • संकटHindi
  • kesulitanIndonesian
  • óþægindi, stórhætta, váIcelandic
  • دڵ ته‌نگی, بێچاره‌یی‌, شڕKurdish
  • nonope, uhitea, āwangawanga, māteatea, mōrearea, ahoteaMāori
  • zetten, stress, druk, onder, benauwenDutch
  • nødsituasjon, ubehagNorwegian
  • niebezpieczeństwo, zagrożeniePolish
  • perigo, penhorar, angustiar, desgastar, desconfortoPortuguese
  • pericol, deranja, suferință, primejdieRomanian
  • несча́стье, го́ре, бе́дствие, беда́Russian
  • दुःखं,, शोकः, क्लेशः, आपद्Sanskrit
  • muka, distresSerbo-Croatian
  • shqetësojAlbanian
  • nödläge, obehag, nödsituationSwedish
  • ความทุกข์Thai
  • sıkıntıTurkish
  • 苦难Chinese

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"distress." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/distress>.

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    a decorative musical accompaniment (often improvised) added above a basic melody
    • A. gloat
    • B. fluster
    • C. excogitate
    • D. descant

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