There are three accounts of the origins of contemporary ideas, practices, and experiences related to stress. The first focuses on the etymology of the word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term stress comes from strictus, past participle of stringere (tighten, draw tight) and also the source of the Old French estrece/estrecier (narrowness, compression, oppression) and the Old English words distress and strict. In the fourteenth century, the words estrece/estrecier and distress mutated into stress: the noun stress meant a form of hardship, adversity, force, or pressure and, from the sixteenth century, physical injury; the verb stress meant to subject (someone or -thing) to force or compulsion. The noun and verb stress thus both referred to a quality of the environment, something external that affected a person or thing. An exception was the adjective stressed, which also in the sixteenth century opened the possibility of an internal condition, referring to something or someone as afflicted or distressed. Then in the seventeenth century, the noun stress also came to refer to an internal quality, and in the nineteenth century, to a mix of outside pressure and inner reactions. From thereon, all three meanings—external, internal, or a mix—were used, setting the...

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