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 rapper’s first two projects, 2018’s Black Matter and 2019’s Color Us, outline a worldview dedicated to resisting cycles of oppression. Meagan Jordan, Rolling Stone, 14 Oct. 2021 Often hailed as the conscience of South Africa, Tutu was a key campaigner against South Africa's previous brutal system of oppression against the country's Black majority. Andrew Meldrum, ajc, 6 Oct. 2021 This country has a centuries-long, complicated history of racial oppression against various racial groups. Dana Brownlee, Forbes, 5 Oct. 2021 Those feelings, however, still emerge under the dreadful cloud of oppression. The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 How do women perpetuate the very systems of oppression that have led our world to rot? Angelica Jade Bastién, Vulture, 24 Sep. 2021 We are not being asked to solve a genetic mystery or dismantle entire systems of oppression in a matter of months. Taylor Harris, Time, 18 Sep. 2021 Many Afghans distrust the Taliban and have already seen changes reminiscent of the group’s previous era of oppression. oregonlive, 18 Sep. 2021 With startling or humorous images and phrases, the memes invite viewers to believe, for example, that White people are victims of oppression and the West is under threat from outsiders. Michael D'antonio And James Cohen, CNN, 17 Sep. 2021

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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Time Traveler for oppression

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

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Oppression.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oppression. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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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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