op·press | \ ə-ˈpres \
oppressed; oppressing; oppresses

Definition of oppress 

transitive verb

1a archaic : suppress

b : to crush or burden by abuse of power or authority The country has long been oppressed by a ruthless dictator. oppressed minorities

2 : to burden spiritually or mentally : weigh heavily upon oppressed by a sense of failure oppress by intolerable guilt

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Other words from oppress

oppressor \ə-ˈpre-sər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for oppress

wrong, oppress, persecute, aggrieve mean to injure unjustly or outrageously. wrong implies inflicting injury either unmerited or out of proportion to what one deserves. a penal system that had wronged him oppress suggests inhumane imposing of burdens one cannot endure or exacting more than one can perform. a people oppressed by a warmongering tyrant persecute implies a relentless and unremitting subjection to annoyance or suffering. a child persecuted by constant criticism aggrieve implies suffering caused by an infringement or denial of rights. a legal aid society representing aggrieved minority groups

Examples of oppress in a Sentence

The country has long been oppressed by a ruthless dictator. They condemned attempts by the government to oppress its citizens. people who have traditionally been oppressed by society
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Recent Examples on the Web

Until the world stops erasing/oppressing/murdering us, trans women play trans women, trans men play trans men, nonbinary people play NB people. Nina Metz, chicagotribune.com, "Why trans actors should be cast in trans roles," 12 July 2018 Their separate narrative arcs all tie in with the finale’s main thread of Gilead’s oppressed finally pushing back against their oppressors. Lorraine Ali, latimes.com, "Review: 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2 finale sets up a compelling new direction for the series," 11 July 2018 This would be a good compromise between allowing police to be present while also allowing minorities consistently oppressed by the police to feel safe. Devlyn Camp, Chicago Reader, "Perspective / News / LGBTQ+ Pride double standard? Bars upset after police forced some to close early after parade," 29 June 2018 Now state and city governments are free to impose burdens that crush distant small businesses and there will be no political accountability—because the tax collectors will be oppressing people with no representation in the abusive jurisdiction. James Freeman, WSJ, "When Will Washington Stop Helping Amazon?," 22 June 2018 The department grasps the role of policing in the current political and social climate, doing its best to bolster relationships, particularly in the black, immigrant and marginalized communities that have been historically oppressed, Moore said. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "‘He’s just a doer’: Meet Seattle police-chief candidate Ely Reyes," 9 July 2018 If not carefully planned, wrote Powell, the control of agriculture would fall into the hands of water companies owned by rich men, who would eventually use their considerable power to oppress the people. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 What color are the people who feel as though they are oppressed here? Monique Judge, The Root, "Bill O’Reilly Blames Roseanne for Proving That White Racism Is Alive and Well in America," 31 May 2018 In Turkey, they were taken as a signal that Mr. Erdogan intends to continue a campaign to oppress the news media even, or especially, as the country prepares to vote in one of the most important elections in its history. Carlotta Gall, New York Times, "Turkey’s Independent Newspaper Voice Perseveres With a Smile," 6 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oppress.' 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 oppress

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for oppress

Middle English oppressen "to put pressure on, crush, burden, overwhelm," borrowed from Anglo-French oppresser, borrowed from Medieval Latin oppressāre, frequentative derivative from Latin oppressus, past participle of opprimere "to press on, stifle, overpower," from ob- ob- + premere "to press" — more at press entry 2

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Phrases Related to oppress

the oppressed

Statistics for oppress

Last Updated

2 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for oppress

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

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More Definitions for oppress



English Language Learners Definition of oppress

: to treat (a person or group of people) in a cruel or unfair way

: to make (someone) feel sad or worried for a long period of time


op·press | \ ə-ˈpres \
oppressed; oppressing

Kids Definition of oppress

1 : to control or rule in a harsh or cruel way The cruel ruler oppressed his people.

2 : to cause to feel burdened in spirit Grief oppressed the survivors.

Other words from oppress

oppressor \-ˈpre-sər \ noun

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Comments on oppress

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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