Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Duress

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The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is duress. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Duress, which is typically used with under, refers to force or threats meant to make someone do something. It is used especially of unlawful constraint.

// The defense asserts that the defendant’s confession was made under duress.

DURESS in Context

“The ordinance … was passed under duress by council members who believed that it would never be implemented.” — Gilbert Garcia, The San Antonio (Texas) Express-News Online, 20 May 2022

Did You Know?

Duress is most often paired with the word under to refer to force or threats meant to make someone do something. For example, someone forced to sign a document signs it “under duress,” and a person held “under duress” is not free to leave but is being constrained, usually unlawfully. (Do not confuse being “under duress” with being “under stress,” which is a much more common occurrence.) Duress is ultimately from Latin durus, meaning “hard,” source too of durable and endure.

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