op·​press | \ ə-ˈpres How to pronounce oppress (audio) \
oppressed; oppressing; oppresses

Definition of oppress

transitive verb

1a : to crush or burden by abuse of power or authority The country has long been oppressed by a ruthless dictator. oppressed minorities
b archaic : suppress
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 How to pronounce oppressor (audio) \ 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

Javed is both oppressed by his father’s rigid rules and cowed by the aggressions of local neo-Nazi youths, who chase him home, spit on him, and menace him and other people of color, daubing houses with slurs and swastikas. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "A Teen-Ager Is Saved by the Music of Bruce Springsteen in “Blinded by the Light”," 15 Aug. 2019 The country could one day swing authoritarian and goose-step behind a narcissistic despot wannabe who can abuse such efforts to instead spy on and oppress opponents. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: Amber Alert for cops in danger makes its test debut in Minnesota," 15 Aug. 2019 Facing off with Big Brother The game takes place in a near-future London, at a time when people are being oppressed by Big Brother-esque surveillance and a corrupt private military corporation, Albion, patrolling the streets. Marc Saltzman, USA TODAY, "You must resist Big Brother in upcoming Ubisoft video game 'Watch Dogs: Legion'," 29 June 2019 Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, the series follows June/Offred (played by Elisabeth Moss) in a dystopian world called Gilead following a Second American Civil War, where women are oppressed and only used in society for their fertility. Eric Todisco, PEOPLE.com, "The Handmaid's Tale Renewed by Hulu for Season 4," 26 July 2019 Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, the drama series is set in a dystopian world where women, oppressed by a totalitarian regime, are only valued for their ability to produce offspring. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "The Handmaid's Tale renewed for season 4," 26 July 2019 The wives of Gilead in many ways resemble what Melania and Ivanka Trump have come to represent: women who uphold a ruthless patriarchal society, yet are oppressed by it at the same time. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "The Surprising Way the Trumps Inspired The Handmaid's Tale This Season," 5 June 2019 The oppressor sees every victory by the oppressed as the final concession. Jerry Brewer, The Denver Post, "Brewer: U.S. women’s soccer team is just one part of a larger wave of female activism," 4 July 2019 Both increase during heat waves—like the one oppressing Miami at the moment. Amy Westervelt, The New Republic, "Jay Inslee Would Like Your Attention, Please," 26 June 2019

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 1b

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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Statistics for oppress

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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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 How to pronounce oppress (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on oppress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oppress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oppress

Spanish Central: Translation of oppress

Nglish: Translation of oppress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oppress for Arabic Speakers

Comments on oppress

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recurring in steady succession

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