Distrain Definition

To seize and hold (property) as security or indemnity for a debt.
Webster's New World
To seize the property of (a person) in order to compel payment of debts; distress.
American Heritage
To levy a distress.
American Heritage

To seize personal property of an individual, typically a tenant, to compel the performance of an obligation, such as the payment of rent. See also distress.

Webster's New World Law
1600, Edward Fairfax, The Jerusalem Delivered of Tasso, XII, xii.
Thus spake the Prince, and gently 'gan distrainNow him, now her, between his friendly arms.

Origin of Distrain

  • Middle English distreinen from Old French destreindre destreign- from Medieval Latin distringere distrinct- from Latin to hinder dis- apart dis– stringere to draw tight streig- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • 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”).

    From Wiktionary

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