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late 13c., "circumstance that causes anxiety or hardship," from Old French destresse, from Vulgar Latin *districtia "restraint, affliction, narrowness, distress," from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere "draw apart, hinder," also, in Medieval Latin "compel, coerce," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + stringere "draw tight, press together" (see strain (v.)). Meaning "anguish, suffering; grief" is from c.1300.
distress dis·tress (dĭ-strěs')
Mental or physical suffering or anguish.
Severe strain resulting from exhaustion or trauma.
in law, process that enables a person to seize and detain from a wrongdoer some chattel, or item of personal property, as a pledge for the redressing of an injury, the performance of a duty, or the satisfaction of a demand. Distress was frequently levied without legal process, but requirements have become more stringent and now often necessitate some type of court action.