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 In the 1960s, Black and Puerto Rican students across the City University of New York system faced police repression to push things further, demanding open admissions so their working-class peers could have the same opportunities. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, "The End of the University," 8 Sep. 2020 The same could be asked, perhaps, of the Chinese governments recent crackdown in Hong Kong and the intensification of its repression campaign in Xinjiang, even as international outcry grows. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "China’s insatiable appetite for control is forcing even its “model minority” to rebel," 3 Sep. 2020 Zhukov won admiration for a powerful statement to the court last December calling on Russians to eschew fear and resist repression. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "Another Kremlin critic is attacked, as opposition leader Navalny recovers in German hospital," 31 Aug. 2020 Belarusians, weary of the country's deteriorating economy and Mr. Lukashenko's repression of the opposition, coalesced around Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a former teacher and the wife of a jailed opposition blogger. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Generosity for Lebanon but little trust," 10 Aug. 2020 Mr Lukashenko has been in office longer than any of them, thanks to a mixture of populism, socialism, repression, Russian cash and European toleration. The Economist, "Putin’s pal in peril The right way to get rid of President Alexander Lukashenko," 1 Aug. 2020 The massacre in Tiananmen Square was a violent repression of pro-democracy students by Chinese Communist security forces, as the regime killed hundreds or even thousands of dissidents rather than reform. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Senior House Democrat links Tiananmen Square crackdown to Trump's clearing of Lafayette Park," 5 June 2020 And according to Mayorca, the pandemic has given rise to more repression and further reason for authorities to rule with an iron fist. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Behind Maduro's 'bioterrorism' accusations amid Venezuelan coronavirus crackdown," 21 Aug. 2020 In other parts of the city, though, deep evidence of institutional repression remains. Amelia Rayno, Star Tribune, "A tour of civil rights landmarks reveals what's changed, and what hasn't," 14 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

17 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Repression.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 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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