Distre'ss. n.s. [destresse, French.]
- The act of making a legal seizure.
- A compulsion in real actions, by which a man is assured to appear in court, or to pay a debt or duty which he refused. Cow.
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. Spenser's State of Ireland.
Quoth she, some say the soul's secure
Against distress and forfeiture. Hudibras, p. iii. cant. 1.
- The thing seized by law.
- Calamity; misery; misfortune.
There can I sit alone, unseen of any,
And to the nightingale's complaining notes
Tune my distresses, and record my woes. 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.