op·​pres·​sion | \ ə-ˈpre-shən How to pronounce oppression (audio) \

Definition of oppression

1a : unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power the continuing oppression of the … underclasses— H. A. Daniels
b : something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power unfair taxes and other oppressions
2 : a sense of being weighed down in body or mind : depression an oppression of spirits

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Examples of oppression in a Sentence

suffered a lingering oppression in the weeks after his dog died

Recent Examples on the Web

The trickle down effect of all sort of oppression lands on black women, trans or not. Gina Martinez, Time, "Two Recent Murders of Black Trans Women in Texas Reveal a Nationwide Crisis, Advocates Say," 7 June 2019 In the Trump era, surrogacy has become a kind of symbol for patriarchal oppression. Nora Caplan-bricker, The New Republic, "Choose Your Own Family," 4 June 2019 When you're used to privilege, equality feels like oppression. Mark Elibert, Billboard, "Talib Kweli Talks 'Radio Silence,' H&M's Controversial 'Monkey' Ad & Why He Thinks Trump Is a 'Classic Racist'," 17 Jan. 2018 The First Amendment is a principle that exists to protect the public from the potential oppression of the state, ensuring that we can’t get thrown in prison for saying things the government doesn’t like. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Twitter is wrong: facts are not enough to combat Alex Jones," 10 Aug. 2018 By the end, all of them have taken steps toward escaping their self-oppression. Albert Williams, Chicago Reader, "Archive Dive / Arts / LGBT / Theater A year before Stonewall, there was The Boys in the Band, the first successful mainstream play with all gay characters," 26 Mar. 2018 Historically, these racial groups have faced more oppression and have endured more setbacks than white people — making it even harder to build wealth. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Equal Pay Day Messaging Disregards Women of Color," 2 Apr. 2019 June 24 Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving is lifted, removing a symbol of women’s oppression in the kingdom. WSJ, "Opening Up and Cracking Down," 20 Nov. 2018 For many Palestinians, the knowledge that Israeli authorities are tracking their social-media activities is seen as just another level of oppression and restriction in an intractable, decades-old conflict. Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, "Israel says that monitoring social media has cut ‘lone wolf’ attacks. Palestinians are crying foul.," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oppression.' 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 oppression

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

History and Etymology for oppression

Middle English oppressioun, borrowed from Anglo-French oppression, borrowed from Latin oppressiōn-, oppressiō "action of pressing on or overpowering," from oppres- or *oppret-, variant stem of opprimere "to press on, stifle, overpower" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at oppress

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Statistics for oppression

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for oppression

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

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More Definitions for oppression


op·​pres·​sion | \ ə-ˈpre-shən How to pronounce oppression (audio) \

Kids Definition of oppression

: cruel or unjust use of power or authority


op·​pres·​sion | \ ə-ˈpre-shən How to pronounce oppression (audio) \

Legal Definition of oppression

: an unjust or excessive exercise of power: as
a : unlawful, wrongful, or corrupt exercise of authority by a public official acting under color of authority that causes a person harm
b : dishonest, unfair, wrongful, or burdensome conduct by corporate directors or majority shareholders that entitles minority shareholders to compel involuntary dissolution of the corporation
c : inequality of bargaining power resulting in one party's lack of ability to negotiate or exercise meaningful choice — see also unconscionability

Other Words from oppression

oppressive \ ə-​ˈpre-​siv How to pronounce oppressive (audio) \ adjective

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