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 repressionist (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 For more than a century, Rio de Janeiro’s carnival has been an irrepressible force, unstoppable by wars, disease, labor strikes or political repression. Manuela Andreoni, New York Times, "The Carnival Parade Is Canceled, and Rio Is Reeling," 30 Sep. 2020 The regime doesn’t limit its repression to Iran’s dissidents and protesters. Reza Pahlavi, WSJ, "Navid Afkari’s Murder Was a Message," 13 Sep. 2020 Nor is Disney the only film studio to ignore repression in the People’s Republic of China while embracing the cause of social justice at home. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The Dialectic of Woke," 12 Sep. 2020 Under the Trump administration, the United States has repeatedly condemned the regime of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and his repression of his party’s political opponents. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, "Members of Congress ask Trump to stop deporting Nicaraguan dissidents," 4 Sep. 2020 More than any other government, Beijing has made technology central to its repression. Kenneth Roth, The New York Review of Books, "How China Threatens Human Rights Worldwide," 14 Jan. 2020 For more than two centuries, people here have protested, sometimes violently, against Chinese repression. Washington Post, "China is building vast new detention centers for Muslims in Xinjiang," 24 Sep. 2020 But the violence was the prelude to decades of repression and death in Soviet Russia. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How the Red Terror set a macabre course for the Soviet Union," 2 Sep. 2020 Storming the prison might have broken the protests’ code of non-violence, and given Mr Lukashenko—and his backers in Moscow—an excuse for harsher repression. The Economist, "Hanging on, for now Alexander Lukashenko is trying to beat protesters into submission," 22 Aug. 2020

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

11 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Repression.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for repression


How to pronounce repression (audio)

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

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