re·​pres·​sion | \ ri-ˈpre-shən How to pronounce repression (audio) \

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 How to pronounce repression (audio) \ 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 Yet conversion therapy serves a politics of repression. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 In the novel, Phil's sexuality is hinted at but never overtly confirmed by author Thomas Savage; his character's prickly, conniving nature is informed by a lifetime of repression. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 7 Sep. 2021 For artists, the former military era came with a heavy dose of repression. Emily Fishbein, Rolling Stone, 6 Sep. 2021 Western governments and human rights groups accuse China of conducting a broad campaign of repression against the Muslim Uyghur population of Xinjiang, including mass detention in camps. Washington Post, 27 Aug. 2021 And early reports of repression — as well as violence and chaos at Kabul airport — have further undermined its PR offensive. NBC News, 26 Aug. 2021 The rights groups say the companies are benefiting from a Chinese system of repression against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Angela Charlton, Star Tribune, 2 July 2021 There has been growing support for Puerto Rican independence among voters and activists on the island, after decades of repression against the movement. Lilia Luciano, CBS News, 24 June 2021 But the repression of dissent also serves Putin’s interests, Zochowski said, as instability in Belarus could prompt anti-Putin sentiment at home. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021

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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Time Traveler for repression

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

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Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Repression.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce repression (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on repression

Nglish: Translation of repression for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of repression for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about repression


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