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

Rivera was born in 1973, just months before General Augusto Pinochet staged a coup d’etat and initiated a decades-long dictatorship in Chile marked by violent political repression. Nora Mcgreevy,, "Massachusetts artist wins deCordova museum’s $35,000 Rappaport Prize: ‘This is a life-changer for me’," 14 Aug. 2019 Political repression has increased in recent years. Nicholas Frankovich, National Review, "The Unmade Case against China," 16 July 2019 But for Kosovo Albanians, who had faced political repression from Serbia throughout most of the 1990s and had virtually no allies throughout the 20th century, this was the start of the American infatuation. Una Hajdari, The New Republic, "The Clinton Administration Did Not Fix the Balkans," 21 June 2019 For some, the repression that One Child Nation delves into may feel remote. Brandon Yu, The Atlantic, "One Child Nation Paints a Harrowing Picture of an Infamous Policy," 13 Aug. 2019 The repression has grown ever since Trump signaled in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia that human rights in the Middle East would not be a priority for the White House. Washington Post, "Egypt jails American traveler, saying she criticized the government on Facebook," 9 Aug. 2019 But these legal advances have come coupled with the repression of the Saudi female activists who have pushed to reform the guardianship system. Alainna Liloia, The Conversation, "Saudi women are fighting for their freedom – and their hard-won victories are growing," 8 Aug. 2019 Dozens of Ohioans were among several thousand Falun Gong practitioners who gathered in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to protest Chinese repression of the Falun Gong,’s Sabrina Eaton reports. Laura Hancock,, "DeWine vetoes health care price ‘transparency’ items in budget: Capitol Letter," 19 July 2019 Several dozen Mauritanian-Americans and their advocates and allies held a march Monday in Downtown Cincinnati to protest the repression of black Africans there and called on U.S. sanctions against Mauritania. Mark Curnutte,, "'I do everything all Americans do.' Home but for how long? ICE releases Mauritanian man after 11 months," 16 July 2019

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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Statistics for repression

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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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 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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Comments on repression

What made you want to look up repression? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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