op·​press | \ ə-ˈpres How to pronounce oppress (audio) \
oppressed; oppressing; oppresses

Definition of oppress

transitive verb

1a : to crush or burden by abuse of power or authority The country has long been oppressed by a ruthless dictator. oppressed minorities
b archaic : suppress
2 : to burden spiritually or mentally : weigh heavily upon oppressed by a sense of failure oppress by intolerable guilt

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Other Words from oppress

oppressor \ ə-​ˈpre-​sər How to pronounce oppressor (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for oppress

wrong, oppress, persecute, aggrieve mean to injure unjustly or outrageously. wrong implies inflicting injury either unmerited or out of proportion to what one deserves. a penal system that had wronged him oppress suggests inhumane imposing of burdens one cannot endure or exacting more than one can perform. a people oppressed by a warmongering tyrant persecute implies a relentless and unremitting subjection to annoyance or suffering. a child persecuted by constant criticism aggrieve implies suffering caused by an infringement or denial of rights. a legal aid society representing aggrieved minority groups

Examples of oppress in a Sentence

The country has long been oppressed by a ruthless dictator. They condemned attempts by the government to oppress its citizens. people who have traditionally been oppressed by society
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Recent Examples on the Web Disclosure underscores how patriarchy, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and capitalism thoroughly oppress our most marginalised. Lia Beck, refinery29.com, "The Voices You Heard In Disclosure Should Stay With You After The Credits Roll," 20 June 2020 In this moment, bold conversations about complete abolition of all systems that oppress our communities have emerged once again. Kirsten West Savali, Essence, "‘Police Don’t Prevent Crime, They Respond To Crime’: Essence Fest Panel Discusses ‘Defund the Police’," 27 June 2020 Below is a list of five powerful documentaries that bravely address the systems and institutions designed to oppress a vulnerable population. Candace Mcduffie, The Christian Science Monitor, "Racial justice: Five eye-opening documentaries," 26 June 2020 The world works to oppress the most vulnerable among us; fantasy suggests profound possibility. Jason Parham, Wired, "The Role of Fantasy in Times of Radical Unrest," 5 June 2020 The response of Montfermeil’s oppressed and outraged young people arises in a sequence of intense drama that has the feeling of both a liberation and an apocalypse. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Urgent But Stilted “Les Misérables”," 22 Jan. 2020 Europeans who had been conquered, oppressed and persecuted by the Nazis turned their anger toward the ethnic Germans in their own communities, many of whom had lived there for multiple generations. Anil Menon, The Conversation, "Postwar forced resettlement of Germans echoes through the decades," 7 May 2020 What Europeans want is not a way to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon, but a way to keep profiting from trade with a brutal regime that oppresses its own people and remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, "Europe’s Appeasement of Iran Remains a Threat to the West," 5 Dec. 2019 Our people continue to be oppressed and persecuted. Majeed Gly, WSJ, "A Word From Mr. Kurd," 1 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oppress.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of oppress

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for oppress

Middle English oppressen "to put pressure on, crush, burden, overwhelm," borrowed from Anglo-French oppresser, borrowed from Medieval Latin oppressāre, frequentative derivative from Latin oppressus, past participle of opprimere "to press on, stifle, overpower," from ob- ob- + premere "to press" — more at press entry 2

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Time Traveler for oppress

Time Traveler

The first known use of oppress was in the 14th century

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Statistics for oppress

Last Updated

13 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Oppress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oppress. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for oppress


How to pronounce oppress (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of oppress

: to treat (a person or group of people) in a cruel or unfair way
: to make (someone) feel sad or worried for a long period of time


op·​press | \ ə-ˈpres How to pronounce oppress (audio) \
oppressed; oppressing

Kids Definition of oppress

1 : to control or rule in a harsh or cruel way The cruel ruler oppressed his people.
2 : to cause to feel burdened in spirit Grief oppressed the survivors.

Other Words from oppress

oppressor \ -​ˈpre-​sər \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on oppress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oppress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oppress

Spanish Central: Translation of oppress

Nglish: Translation of oppress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oppress for Arabic Speakers

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