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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of oppression in a Sentence

suffered a lingering oppression in the weeks after his dog died
Recent Examples on the Web Our nation did not establish Columbus Day to commemorate oppression or discrimination. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Labor widens war on un-American and anti-white diversity training," 13 Oct. 2020 The history of intolerance and oppression offers lessons for our time -- and the future. Maria Shine Stewart, cleveland, "Our youth can shape a better world: Sun Messages," 5 Oct. 2020 This leads to various degrees of marginalisation and oppression in women. Sreya Banerjea, Quartz India, "Up for sale: Stories of three Indian women who were trafficked as brides," 3 Oct. 2020 The neighborhood was one of few places where Black and Native Americans could coexist without experiencing daily, virulent oppression. Sandra E. Garcia, New York Times, "On Long Island, a Beachfront Haven for Black Families," 1 Oct. 2020 More than 33,000 North Koreans have fled to the South since the early 1990s to escape poverty and political oppression. Washington Post, "North Korean troops shot and cremated missing South Korean official, Seoul says," 24 Sep. 2020 Turner, 31, was fired in 2018 and arrested on charges attempted theft by deception, unsworn falsifying, obstructing justice and official oppression related to the reports department officials alleged had been falsified. Claudia Lauer, Star Tribune, "Fired, pro-Black Lives Matter officer sues to get job back," 18 Sep. 2020 But in some of its other definitions, the word can have troubling associations with slavery, subjugation and oppression of native residents. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Goodspeed’s annual writers gathering drops ‘colony’ from name," 17 Sep. 2020 However, the Texans players had discussed staging a protest during both anthems in an attempt to continue to draw attention to the ongoing problems of police brutality against people of color and systemic oppression. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Houston Texans players choose not to be on field for national anthem," 11 Sep. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about oppression

Time Traveler for oppression

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for oppression

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Oppression.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oppression. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on oppression

What made you want to look up oppression? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Here Be Dragons: A Creature Identification Quiz

  • monster werewolf photo
  • Which is a synonym of werewolf?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!