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 The southern African nation suffers from spiraling inflation and chronic shortages of foreign exchange, bread and electricity, prompting protests that have been brutally repressed. 1. Washington Post, "Why Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe Remains Mired in Misery," 18 Sep. 2019 Similar appeals to Nicaraguans were reinforced by events in Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega, the country’s strongman President, has repressed dissent and brutalized opponents. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "The Fight for the Latino Vote in Florida," 16 Sep. 2019 In order to take down the patriarchy, Egyptian-American journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy argues that women need to start embodying the traits they’ve been taught to repress, like being angry, lustful and ambitious. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "The 42 Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2019," 30 Aug. 2019 Namely, Delilah wants the repressed, overly disciplined Stella to sow some wild oats. Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter, "'How Stella Got Her Groove Back': THR's 1998 Review," 14 Aug. 2019 Get our daily newsletter FATA has been starved of development and repressed for decades—in part, presumably, because its people had little say in how it was run. The Economist, "Pakistan’s borderlands at last win a say in their own administration," 20 July 2019 Is Larry truly present, or simply giving voice to the desires Dorothy has repressed? Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 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

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

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for repress

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on repress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for repress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


an agreement to stop fighting a war

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