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abuse of distress

The wrongful or unlawful use or sale of property that has been seized in order to force payment or the performance of some contractual obligation (known in law as the process of distress or distrain). It was a clear case of abuse of distress: the landlord, without a court order, changed the locks on the door and then seized and sold the tenants' belongings only an hour after serving them a notice of eviction.
See also: abuse, distress, of

damsel in distress

A helpless woman who needs to be rescued from some danger. The term is a reference to the stereotypical female character in romantic stories who serves solely to be rescued by a heroic male character. It's not like I'm a damsel in distress, Dad—I'll be fine living on my own.
See also: damsel, distress

damsel in distress

a young woman in trouble. humorous
Damsel in distress makes humorous reference to the ladies in chivalric romances whose sole purpose was to be rescued from peril by a knight in shining armour (see knight).
See also: damsel, distress

a ˌdamsel in diˈstress

(humorous) a woman who needs help from a man, often to solve a practical problem: When I got a flat tyre I had to wait for my boyfriend to come and help me, like a true damsel in distress!
Damsel is an old word for a young woman who is not married.
See also: damsel, distress
References in periodicals archive ?
There are also some disease concerns and the sudden arrival of the grassy sawfly in the extreme southwest, but for the most part, there are no signs in mid-June of anything distressingly out of the ordinary.
There's even a distressingly average rendition of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean by Sound Bluntz.
The fine points of translation will be fascinating for Egyptian and Near Eastern scholars, although the politics will be distressingly familiar.
Neil Patel's set was engaging in the first scene and not bad in the third, but it became progressively simpler to the point where, in the last act, it was distressingly bare.
They're distressingly short on welcoming the stranger and distressingly long on the car-manual approach to marital relations.
Distressingly, big James showed us his huge wobbly belly at every opportunity.
In the 1980s, New York's political atmosphere was a stew of combustible ingredients: one part pugnacious ebullience, definitively embodied by Ed Koch; another part a distressingly familiar arrogance born out of a go-go, junk bond-fueled, "Greed is good" Wall Street boom and underlying it all a persistent, post-Watergate skepticism about government and the integrity of public servants.
More distressingly, the bat bought specially for the outing split at the splice halfway through our session, ending it prematurely.
The last time these figures were available, they were distressingly low.
In his Albion programme column, Adrian (pictured) described what he saw: "There, distressingly close, stood Wembley Stadium, the Arch of Disappointment curving magnificently skywards in the morning light.
But, by 1993, the last two were in a distressingly dangerous state.
Type 2 diabetes is distressingly common in Westernised societies and is predicted to rise to alarming levels.
Two summers ago, I returned to my childhood neighborhood to distressingly discover that all the trees that had once lined the street were gone.