To seize and hold (property) to compel payment or reparation, as of debts.
To seize the property of (a person) in order to compel payment of debts; distress.
To levy a distress.
To seize and hold (property) as security or indemnity for a debt.
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
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”).