re·pres·sion | \ri-ˈpre-shən \

Definition of repression 

1a : the action or process of repressing : the state of being repressed repression of unpopular opinions

b : an instance of repressing racial repressions

2a : a mental process by which distressing thoughts, memories, or impulses that may give rise to anxiety are excluded from consciousness and left to operate in the unconscious

b : an item so excluded

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Other Words from repression

repressionist \ri-ˈpre-sh(ə-)nist \ adjective

Examples of repression in a Sentence

the state's repression of its citizens They survived 60 years of political repression.

Recent Examples on the Web

Many are encouraged by the fact that the US is in talks with Mexico to assist that country – and its incoming, migrant-friendly president – in becoming an appealing refuge itself for those fleeing violence or repression in Central America. The Christian Science Monitor, "Mexico as a haven for asylum seekers," 11 July 2018 Atop a political machine that had governed Malaysia since its independence in 1957, Najib and his allies used political influence, cash handouts, and news media repression to try to keep corruption accusations at bay for years. Hannah Beech And Austin Ramzy,, "Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former prime minister, is arrested amid corruption inquiry," 4 July 2018 Strong states maintain control through a strategic mix of co-optation rather than repression. Amy Erica Smith, Vox, "Solo reveals the weakness of the Star Wars Galactic Empire," 20 June 2018 Taner’s plight is emblematic of the new wave of repression currently gripping Turkey. Salil Shetty, Time, "Today I Visited My Turkish Colleague in Prison. Erdogan’s Crackdown Must Stop," 20 June 2018 Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation recently asked some of these questions in The New Republic, pointing to several cases of dictators who would fake or misrepresent their countries’ stats, and use them to mask or distract from repression. Peter Vanham, The New Republic, "Why Do-Gooders Love Development Statistics," 11 May 2018 Her commitment to a role that asks her to project extreme repression and tap her inner wildness elevates the proceedings into something of a feminist parable. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Rising Star Jessie Buckley Talks About Her Role in the New British Thriller Beast," 9 May 2018 Growing repression by the security services is a way of demonstrating that the government can operate without restraints, says Zaree, of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. Janine Di Giovanni, Newsweek, "Why Egyptians Say Things are Worse Than Under Mubarak," 5 May 2016 Iranians don’t care about Palestinians, and neither do the ayatollahs, who subject Iran’s own Arab population to discrimination and repression. Eliora Katz, WSJ, "Iranians Are Now Chanting ‘Death to Palestine’," 13 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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The first known use of repression was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of repression

: the act of using force to control someone or something

: the state of being controlled by force

: the act of not allowing a memory, feeling, or desire to be expressed


re·pres·sion | \ri-ˈpresh-ən \

Medical Definition of repression 

1 : the action or process of repressing gene repression

2a : a process by which unacceptable desires or impulses are excluded from consciousness and left to operate in the unconscious — compare suppression sense c

b : an item so excluded

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