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 In her new novel, the silence of illness and seclusion becomes the blank areas of memory which our conscious mind can repress. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi Is a Hall of Wonders," 10 Sep. 2020 The police initially tried to repress mass protests with violence and detentions of about 7,000 people. Aliaksandr Kudrytski,, "Belarus Leader Promotes KGB Veterans in Government Shift," 3 Sep. 2020 Arab states allied with the UAE have been urged to repress any domestic public criticism of Abu Dhabi and Israel in their home countries – despite their own citizens’ outrage and personal misgivings. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "Feeling betrayed by UAE, Palestinians seek to redefine struggle," 19 Aug. 2020 Many junior officers resented the order to repress their people. Kristina Mani, The Conversation, "Using the military to quash protests can erode democracy – as Latin America well knows," 8 June 2020 Curfews were also used against indigenous and Black people throughout the 1700s to repress unrest against white settler colonialism. Erin Corbett,, "Police In The US Are Beating People To The Ground To Enforce The Racist Curfew," 6 June 2020 Companies that knowingly collaborate with China’s efforts to repress its own people or build threatening military capabilities should be penalized. H. R. Mcmaster, The Atlantic, "The United States Needs a New China Strategy," 17 Apr. 2020 Barrett suggests, while also pointing out that dreams can indicate feelings that are repressed during waking life. Los Angeles Times, "You’re not imagining it: We’re all having intense coronavirus dreams," 7 Apr. 2020 The pope spoke against Sadat’s more tolerant stance toward the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s Islamic revivalist movement that was repressed under Sadat’s predecessor, Jamal Abdel Nasser. Ramazan Kılınç, The Conversation, "Mubarak’s lasting legacy on Egypt’s Coptic Christians," 17 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for repress

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for repress

Last Updated

14 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Repress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for repress


How to pronounce re-press (audio)

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.
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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