Duress refers to the use of force, threats, or other forms of coercion to compel someone to act against their will or better judgment. It is typically used to describe situations in which an individual is pressured or intimidated into taking a particular course of action, often against their moral, ethical, or legal obligations. Duress can take many forms, including physical violence, emotional intimidation, or financial coercion, among others.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



coercion, compulsion, constraint, pressure, force, threat, intimidation, bullying, harassment, oppression, interference, imposition.


freedom, liberty, voluntary, spontaneity, free will, independence, emancipation, choice, release, liberation.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun duress, duresses
Verb None
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The suspect claimed that his confession was given under duress and coerced by the police.

  • She signed the contract under duress, feeling like she didn’t have the option to refuse.

  • The athlete was under duress to perform well in every game, facing intense scrutiny from fans and the media.

  • The company used duress to force the union to accept the new contract, threatening to outsource jobs if they didn’t agree.


The word “duress” is commonly used in legal contexts to describe situations in which individuals are coerced or pressured into taking certain actions. It can be used to describe physical violence, emotional manipulation, financial duress, and other forms of coercion that may be applied to force someone to do something against their will. The term derives from the Latin word duritia, which means “hardness” or “harshness,” and has a connotation of resistance or difficulty.

One common prefix used with “duress” is “un-”, which produces the antonym “unduressed.” This term describes a situation in which someone is not undergoing any form of coercion or pressure, and is acting of their own free will. Suffixes can also be added to “duress” to create related words with different meanings. For example, “duressful” is an adjective that describes something that is causing pressure or distress, while “duressor” is a noun that refers to a person who applies coercion or force to another individual.

In addition to its use within the legal system, “duress” is often used in everyday contexts to describe situations in which people feel under pressure or stressed. For example, a student may feel under duress to complete an assignment before the deadline, or an employee may be under duress to finish a project before a manager’s deadline. Despite its negative connotations, however, “duress” can also sometimes be used to describe situations that lead to positive outcomes, such as when an athlete performs under “duress” and achieves a personal best or when a speaker delivers a powerful speech despite feeling nervous or anxious.