Words related to distress
word-forming element of Latin origin meaning 1. "lack of, not" (as in dishonest); 2. "opposite of, do the opposite of" (as in disallow); 3. "apart, away" (as in discard), from Old French des- or directly from Latin dis- "apart, asunder, in a different direction, between," figuratively "not, un-," also "exceedingly, utterly." Assimilated as dif- before -f- and to di- before most voiced consonants.
The Latin prefix is from PIE *dis- "apart, asunder" (source also of Old English te-, Old Saxon ti-, Old High German ze-, German zer-). The PIE root is a secondary form of *dwis- and thus is related to Latin bis "twice" (originally *dvis) and to duo, on notion of "two ways, in twain" (hence "apart, asunder").
In classical Latin, dis- paralleled de- and had much the same meaning, but in Late Latin dis- came to be the favored form and this passed into Old French as des-, the form used for compound words formed in Old French, where it increasingly had a privative sense ("not"). In English, many of these words eventually were altered back to dis-, while in French many have been altered back to de-. The usual confusion prevails.
As a living prefix in English, it reverses or negatives what it is affixed to. Sometimes, as in Italian, it is reduced to s- (as in spend, splay, sport, sdain for disdain, and the surnames Spencer and Spence).
c. 1300, "tie, bind, fasten, gird," from present participle stem of Old French estreindre "bind tightly, clasp, squeeze," from Latin stringere (2) "draw tight, bind tight, compress, press together," from PIE root *streig- "to stroke, rub, press" (source also of Lithuanian strėgti "congeal, freeze, become stiff;" Greek strangein "twist;" Old High German strician "mends nets;" Old English streccian "to stretch;" German stramm, Dutch stram "stiff").
From late 14c. as "tighten; make taut," also "exert oneself; overexert (a body part)," Sense of "press through a filter, put (a liquid) through a strainer" is from early 14c. (implied in strainer); that of "to stress beyond measure, carry too far, make a forced interpretation of" is from mid-15c. Related: Strained; straining.
1610s, "territory under the jurisdiction of a lord or officer," from French district (16c.), from Medieval Latin districtus "restraining of offenders, jurisdiction," then under the feudal system "area of jurisdiction, district within which the lord may take and withhold personal property (distrain) for legal reasons." It is a noun use of the past participle of Latin distringere "to draw apart, hinder," also in Medieval Latin "compel, coerce," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + stringere "draw tight, press together" (see strain (v.)).
Compare distress (v.) which originally in English also had a sense of "constrain or compel." District was used generally of "a limited extent of a country marked off for a special purpose" by 1660s, then vaguely of "any tract of land" by 1712. In the U.S., it generally indicates that the inhabitants act together for some specific purpose (school district, etc.). District attorney is attested by 1789, American English.
c. 1300, stressen, "to subject (someone) to force or compulsion," a short form of distress (v.), or else from Old French estrecier, estrescer, from Vulgar Latin *strictiare, from Latin stringere "draw tight," which also is the source of stress (n.). The figurative meaning "put emphasis on" is first recorded 1896, from notion of laying pressure on something by relying on it. Related: Stressed; stressing.