Definition of distrain in US English:



[with object]Law
  • 1Seize (someone's property) to obtain payment of rent or other money owed.

    ‘legislation has restricted the right to distrain goods found on the premises’
    • ‘The lessor should be paid in full, or be allowed to distrain.’
    • ‘Counsel then argues that the defendant did not convert because since he did not distrain, he was not the seller of the property.’
    • ‘As guarantee of this, the burgess was expected to own a house which could be distrained in the event of default of payment.’
    • ‘Having distrained upon the plaintiff's goods, the inventory prepared fell short of being meticulous.’
    • ‘Only if the equitable lease prevailed would the landlord's action in distraining be proper.’
    1. 1.1 Seize the property of (someone) to obtain payment of money owed.
      ‘the government applied political pressure by distraining debtors’
      • ‘The manuscript adds that an attempt by the Duchess to prevent Lord and Lady Harley from distraining tenants who did not pay their rent has been thrown out of court.’
      seize, take, take possession of, take away, requisition, appropriate, expropriate, sequestrate, sequester, confiscate, annex, take over, claim, lay claim to, pre-empt, secure
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Middle English: from Old French destreindre, from Latin distringere ‘stretch apart’, from dis- ‘apart’ + stringere ‘tighten’.