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

Black Lives Matter has helped spark a conversation about systemic racial oppression. Josh Noel, chicagotribune.com, "Column: In an era of bloodthirsty vengeance, the importance of forgiveness," 6 Sep. 2019 He is particularly obsessed with Europe’s great train stations: places of happiness, but also silent witnesses to exploitation and oppression, to soldiers marching off to war, to exile and deportation. The Economist, "Historical memorials are not enough to stop anti-Semitism in Europe," 22 Aug. 2019 Both centers of power mobilize the national tech industries to solidify state power, sow ethnic division and oppression, and have ensured that the 1% enjoy maximum privacy protections while the populace enjoys none. David Carroll, Quartz, "China embraces its surveillance state. The US pretends it doesn’t have one," 23 July 2019 At Tuesday evening's school board meeting, those in favor of keeping the mural argued the that artist intended to provoke thoughtful discussions about oppression and that the mural could be used as a teaching tool for future generations. Sophie Sherry And Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, "San Francisco school will cover up a mural depicting slaves and dead Native Americans," 26 June 2019 But speaking frankly about the systemic oppression of black women — which still shows up in all manner of racial and gender disparities, including pay — has proved difficult. Courtland Milloy, Washington Post, "In seeking reparations for slavery, it’s time to speak up. And it’s okay to be angry.," 25 June 2019 Starn and La Serna write, Some analysts would later attribute the war’s carnage to peasant brutality or latent Indian resentment about oppression. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 That’s not sexism, that isn’t oppression from the fashion magazines. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Skin Care’s Most Outspoken Founder on Why Sheet Masks Are a Lie," 11 May 2018 But unfortunately, politics and political movements are cyclical, and these themes of oppression are recurring. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Amanda Brugel Has a Game-Changing Theory About The Handmaid's Tale's Rita," 17 Aug. 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

17 Sep 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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Comments on oppression

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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