April 30, 2016
distress (noun)
\dih-STRESS\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : great suffering of body or mind : pain, anguish2 : a painful situation : misfortune3 : a condition of danger or desperate need
How do you use it?
In Herman Melville's novel _Moby Dick_, the massive white whale causes Captain Ahab a great deal of distress, including the loss of both his boat and his leg, for which Ahab seeks revenge.
Are you a word wiz?

In the example sentence, we could have used another word in place of "distress." We've listed three possibilities, and one just plain wrong answer. Can you pick out the one word that is NOT a synonym of "distress"?

"Placidity" refers to peacefulness and calmness, so it's an antonym of "distress." The others, however, are synonyms meaning the state of being in great trouble. "Distress" implies an external and usually temporary cause of great physical or mental strain and stress, as in "the hurricane caused great distress." "Agony" suggests pain almost too intense to bear, as in "in agony over the loss of their child." "Suffering" implies conscious endurance of pain or distress, for example, "the suffering of famine victims." And "misery" stresses the unhappiness that comes with events such as sickness, poverty, or loss, as in "the daily misery of the homeless."
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