Importance, significance, or emphasis placed on something. See Synonyms at emphasis. Linguistics The relative force with which a sound or syllable is spoken. Linguistics The emphasis placed on the sound or syllable spoken most forcefully in a word or phrase. The relative force of sound or emphasis given a syllable or word in accordance with a metrical pattern. A syllable having strong relative emphasis in a metrical pattern. Accent or a mark representing such emphasis or force. Physics An applied force or system of forces that tends to strain or deform a body. Physics The internal resistance of a body to such an applied force or system of forces. A mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression. A stimulus or circumstance causing such a condition. A state of extreme difficulty, pressure, or strain: "He presided over the economy during the period of its greatest stress and danger\u201d ( Robert J. Samuelson). To place emphasis on: stressed basic fire safety. To give prominence to (a syllable or word) in pronouncing or in accordance with a metrical pattern. To subject to physical or mental pressure, tension, or strain. To subject to mechanical pressure or force. To construct so as to withstand a specified stress. stress out Informal To subject to or undergo extreme stress, as from working too much.