du·ress (d-rĕs, dy-)
a. Compulsion by threat or violence; coercion: confessed under duress.
b. Constraint or difficulty caused by misfortune: "children who needed only temporary care because their parents were ill, out of work, or under some other form of duress" (Stephan O'Connor).
a. A fraud achieved through the use of a threat or compulsion: She had a cause of action for duress. His claim was based on duress.
b. A criminal defense for an act undertaken under threat of serious bodily harm: His defense was duress.
3. Forcible confinement.
[Middle English duresse, harshness, compulsion, from Old French durece, hardness, from Latin dūritia, from dūrus, hard; see deru- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus