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

There seems to be a growing faction in this country who see the establishment of the United States as an oppressive and inherently white supremacist nation, committed not to freedom and equality but to oppression. Randy Blaser, chicagotribune.com, "Column: This Fourth of July, take a moment to reflect on our nation’s founding," 28 June 2019 Freedom from slavery and from oppression, in Jewish tradition; freedom from sin and from death, in Christian tradition: All of these ideas come together around the figure of Jesus of Nazareth. Paula Fredriksen, WSJ, "When Jesus Celebrated Passover," 19 Apr. 2019 Speaking on Monday to a crowd that came to witness what many have called a historic moment, Barrow called on Gambians to stand together and say never again would a few people subject the country to oppression. Abdoulie John, The Seattle Times, "‘Dark days’ over: Gambia launches truth, reconciliation body," 15 Oct. 2018 The allied landing on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long campaign to liberate Western Europe from Nazi oppression. Fox News, "Joe diGenova: IG report is being scrubbed by Rosenstein," 6 June 2018 These young European revolutionaries are removed from the Holocaust by a generation and geographically removed from real oppression. Katie Walsh, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘7 Days’ recalls 1976 Israeli hostage crisis," 15 Mar. 2018 Hopes for a better future, freedom from oppression and violence for African-Americans, and a true reconciliation between North and South faded, and soon gave way to Black Codes and Jim Crow segregation that continued well into the 20th century. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The Political Circus and Constitutional Crisis of Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment," 27 Feb. 2018 Killmonger’s desire to free black people from oppression was noble, but his methods were ridiculous and his motives were questionable. Jason Johnson, The Root, "Killmonger Was Wrong, and Ya’ll Know It," 19 Feb. 2018 The United States is condemning them to a life of oppression, repression, and trauma. Erin Corbett, Fortune, "Why U.S. Teachers Are Protesting Alongside Cages in Geneva," 17 June 2019

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

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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