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

China’s internal Internet repression is world-famous. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "U.S. retailer Gap apologizes to China over map on T-shirt that omits Taiwan, South China Sea," 15 May 2018 And your grandchildren will never know the firsthand heartache of repression. Alex Ward, Vox, "John Bolton just gave an “Axis of Evil” speech about Latin America," 1 Nov. 2018 Their legacies are as much on the line as Mr. Powell’s as the Fed steers through the end of this era of financial repression and toward a more complete verdict on post-crisis monetary policy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Ben Bernanke’s End Game," 10 Oct. 2018 Many of them touch on hot-button issues like white supremacy, xenophobia, state surveillance, and government repression of sexuality. Laura Hudson, The Verge, "Vertigo Comics to relaunch with seven new titles, including one by Zoe Quinn," 7 June 2018 In the country’s two English-speaking regions a simmering uprising has been met by brutal repression. The Economist, "Repression is worsening in Cameroon amid an uprising over language," 31 May 2018 President Vladimir Putin’s Russia now appears at the bottom end of our Liberal Democracy Index ranking because of decades of increasing repression against opposition activists and critical media. Anna Lührmann, Washington Post, "One-third of the world’s population lives in a declining democracy. That includes the United States.," 4 July 2018 Atop a political machine that had governed Malaysia since its independence in 1957, Mr. Najib and his allies used political influence, cash handouts and news media repression to try to keep corruption accusations at bay for years. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Malaysia’s Ex-Leader, Najib Razak, Is Charged in Corruption Inquiry," 3 July 2018 But the Mozart — the Piano Concerto in B-flat major (K. 595), Mozart’s last effort in that genre — is also, in part, a memento of perennially current political machinations: a weak leader, shifting alliances, creeping repression. Matthew Guerrieri,, "Mozart for an era of political machinations," 28 June 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

9 Dec 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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to enclose within walls

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