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

Examples of oppression in a Sentence

suffered a lingering oppression in the weeks after his dog died
Recent Examples on the Web For Black women and women of color, this oppression reached farcical levels with the state dictating that women who lived with able-bodied men were ineligible for welfare benefits. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 13 May 2022 Stephanie knows exactly what that oppression feels like. Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 Dear God, Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression. Olivia Muenter, Woman's Day, 6 May 2022 The organization's work reflects critical consciousness theory — the ability to recognize and understand inequality and the commitment to take action to dismantle the systems that encourage oppression. James E. Causey, jsonline.com, 25 Apr. 2022 Representation doesn’t mean everything; often, it is used to avoid doing the harder work of truly reckoning with all the ways in which oppression is woven into the foundations of our world. Samantha Powell, Harper's BAZAAR, 18 Apr. 2022 Boxes decorated with Orthodox crosses requested donations for refugees from two regions of eastern Ukraine where Moscow has baselessly claimed that people are fleeing state oppression. Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2022 Peterson described the people who suffered under Soviet rule as powerless under tyrannical oppression. Taylor Penley, Fox News, 14 Apr. 2022 For Poles, colonial Russian oppression is deeply, painfully familiar—as is the destruction happening right outside their border. Hanna Kozlowska, The New Republic, 13 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Oppression.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oppression. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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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 oppression (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on oppression

Nglish: Translation of oppression for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oppression for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oppression


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