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

Other Words from oppress

oppressor \ ə-​ˈpre-​sər How to pronounce oppress (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
Recent Examples on the Web As the high temperatures continue to oppress much of the country, officials are also faced with protecting farmers and their livestock. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, 22 July 2022 If China wants to oppress its population, there’s not much that the United States can or should do about it. Daniel Bessner, Harper’s Magazine , 22 June 2022 The solution to protecting Black and brown women against domestic violence cannot come from the same systems that oppress them. Hanna Phifer, refinery29.com, 29 Apr. 2022 Untrapped paints the portrait of a multi-dimensional young man who, against all odds, is thriving in a world programmed to diminish and oppress the Black man. Megan Armstrong, Billboard, 12 June 2022 The report says federal, state and local government actions have been used to oppress Black people. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 1 June 2022 After Japan annexed the country in 1910, Koreans experienced a campaign of cultural erasure and material extraction that sought to oppress their heritage in all aspects of daily life, extending to land ownership, language, food and clothing. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2022 Perhaps the fiercest debate is over whether to teach that the United States has overcome its dark legacy of racial discrimination, or whether, as The 1619 Project suggests, slavery’s harms continue to oppress Black Americans in the present. Rachel M. Cohen, The New Republic, 28 Mar. 2022 Race, according to this view, is a relatively recent social construct that is weaponized by dominant groups to oppress others. Jessica Chasmar, Fox News, 8 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

26 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Oppress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oppress. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for oppress


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

More from Merriam-Webster on oppress

Nglish: Translation of oppress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oppress for Arabic Speakers


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