verb (1)
re·​press | \ ri-ˈpres How to pronounce repress (audio) \
repressed; repressing; represses

Definition of repress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to check by or as if by pressure : curb injustice was repressed
b : to put down by force : subdue repress a disturbance
2a : to hold in by self-control repressed a laugh
b : to prevent the natural or normal expression, activity, or development of repressed her anger
3 : to exclude from consciousness repressed the memory of abuse
4 : to inactivate (a gene or formation of a gene product) by allosteric combination at a DNA binding site

intransitive verb

: to take repressive action


verb (2)
\ (ˌ)rē-ˈpres How to pronounce re-press (audio) \
re-pressed; re-pressing; re-presses

Definition of re-press (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to press again re-press a record

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Other Words from repress

Verb (1)

repressibility \ ri-​ˌpre-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce repressibility (audio) \ noun
repressible \ ri-​ˈpre-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce repressible (audio) \ adjective
repressive \ ri-​ˈpre-​siv How to pronounce repressive (audio) \ adjective
repressively adverb
repressiveness noun

Examples of repress in a Sentence

Verb (1)

Religious groups were severely repressed. quickly repressed the rebellion in the provincial city and restored order

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But years before, Jacob had watched another son taken from home and forced to attend one of Canada’s notorious residential schools, where indigenous knowledge and traditions were cruelly repressed. Neil Shea, National Geographic, "A thawing Arctic is heating up a new Cold War," 21 Aug. 2019 Among the many happy consequences, freedom of religion, which had been repressed or circumscribed under communism, was restored. The Economist, "Church leaders in central and eastern Europe remain surprisingly loth to condemn their old adversary," 11 Aug. 2019 And the organization, which was often brutally repressed by the government, also had a pattern of members occasionally becoming radicalized and leaving for more extreme groups. Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, "Mohamed Morsi, Who Brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the Egyptian Presidency," 19 June 2019 Help Hong Kong by supporting democratic freedoms, and by threatening consequences if Beijing should repress the protests violently. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Help Hong Kong by Defending Taiwan," 24 Aug. 2019 As police escalate their means of repressing protesters, what started as a peaceful movement against an unwanted extradition bill has become an increasingly radical wave of anger against police, local gangs and chief executive Carrie Lam. Los Angeles Times, "Hong Kong protesters have been warned. China’s military issues a rebuke and a threatening video," 1 Aug. 2019 In the film, repressing truth is indirect communication taken to an extreme. Brian X. Chen, New York Times, "The Cultural Truth at the Heart of the Lies in ‘The Farewell’," 24 July 2019 Despite repressing political dissent, Ortega has overseen a friendly climate for business. Tracy Wilkinson,, "For the first time under Trump, U.S. punishes Nicaraguan officials for violent demonstrations," 7 June 2018 This also is the country that represses women and civil rights. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Beware political infighting; Missing crucial Senate work; BLM move is suspect; The support Hong Kong needs (7/31/19)," 31 July 2019

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

Verb (1)

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

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for repress

Verb (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French represser, from Latin repressus, past participle of reprimere to check, from re- + premere to press — more at press

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Statistics for repress

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for repress

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

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More Definitions for repress



English Language Learners Definition of repress

: to not allow yourself to do or express (something)
: to not allow yourself to remember (something, such as an unpleasant event)
: to control (someone or something) by force


re·​press | \ ri-ˈpres How to pronounce repress (audio) \
repressed; repressing

Kids Definition of repress

: to hold in check by or as if by pressure On seeing his haircut, I had to repress a laugh.


transitive verb
re·​press | \ ri-ˈpres How to pronounce repress (audio) \

Medical Definition of repress

1 : to exclude from consciousness repress conflicts
2 : to inactivate (a gene or formation of a gene product) by allosteric combination at a DNA binding site

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More from Merriam-Webster on repress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with repress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for repress

Spanish Central: Translation of repress

Nglish: Translation of repress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of repress for Arabic Speakers

Comments on repress

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


to make a temporary encampment

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