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From Old French destraindre, from Latin distringere (to pull asunder, stretch out, engage, hinder, molest, Medieval Latin also compel, coerce as by exacting a pledge by a fine or by imprisonment), from dis- (apart) + stringere (to draw tight, strain).



distrain (third-person singular simple present distrains, present participle distraining, simple past and past participle distrained)

  1. (obsolete) To squeeze, press, embrace; to constrain, oppress.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VII:
      But when he heard her answeres loth, he knew / Some secret sorrow did her heart distraine [...].
    • 1600, Edward Fairfax, The Jerusalem Delivered of Tasso, XII, xii:
      Thus spake the Prince, and gently 'gan distrain
      Now him, now her, between his friendly arms.
  2. (law, transitive, obsolete) To force (someone) to do something by seizing their property.
  3. (law, intransitive) To seize somebody's property in place of, or to force, payment of a debt.
    to distrain a person by his goods and chattels
  4. (obsolete) To pull off, tear apart.


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