verb (1)
re·​press | \ ri-ˈpres How to pronounce repress (audio) \
repressed; repressing; represses

Definition of repress

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to check by or as if by pressure : curb injustice was repressed
b : to put down by force : subdue repress a disturbance
2a : to hold in by self-control repressed a laugh
b : to prevent the natural or normal expression, activity, or development of repressed her anger
3 : to exclude from consciousness repressed the memory of abuse
4 : to inactivate (a gene or formation of a gene product) by allosteric combination at a DNA binding site

intransitive verb

: to take repressive action


verb (2)
\ (ˌ)rē-ˈpres How to pronounce re-press (audio) \
re-pressed; re-pressing; re-presses

Definition of re-press (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to press again re-press a record

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Other Words from repress

Verb (1)

repressibility \ ri-​ˌpre-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce re-press (audio) \ noun
repressible \ ri-​ˈpre-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce re-press (audio) \ adjective
repressive \ ri-​ˈpre-​siv How to pronounce re-press (audio) \ adjective
repressively adverb
repressiveness noun

Examples of repress in a Sentence

Verb (1) Religious groups were severely repressed. quickly repressed the rebellion in the provincial city and restored order
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Reflective sentences in the third person usually obscure or repress something. New York Times, "Justice for the Negro Leagues Will Mean More Than Just Stats," 23 Mar. 2021 In Soft Voice, a young real estate agent (Naomi Scott) negotiates her life with Soft Voice (Bel Powley) and Dark Voice (Olivia Cooke), two internal forces that influence her to alternately repress her desires and pursue them recklessly. Emma Specter, Vogue, "Bel Powley, Naomi Scott, and Olivia Cooke’s New Podcast Is a Dark Thriller to Devour on the Go," 18 Mar. 2021 After the war, he was adopted in Switzerland, but both his new parents and his new country, according to Wilkomirski, forced him to repress his trauma. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "The Identity Hoaxers," 16 Mar. 2021 In Plays Well with Others, New York is the temporary autonomous zone and nobody has to repress much of anything. Justin Taylor, Harper's Magazine, "Every True Pleasure Is a Secret," 16 Mar. 2021 The military has also sought to repress independent media, suspending the licenses of five outlets and arresting journalists. Helen Regan And Jessie Yeung, CNN, "Myanmar's military is killing peaceful protesters. Here's what you need to know," 16 Mar. 2021 Though they’re being used to hold the powerful to account today, the argument goes, they could be used to repress minority groups in the future. Malkia Devich-cyril, Wired, "Banning White Supremacy Isn’t Censorship, It’s Accountability," 31 Jan. 2021 Under the new communist regime, which was built on the promise of creating social equality, religion was banned as it was deemed a bourgeois instrument to repress the working class. Madeline Roache, Time, "How Soviet Russia Banished Their Version of Santa Claus, Then Brought Him Back to Spread Communist Cheer," 24 Dec. 2020 Many universities, research labs, and companies in countries that value the rule of law and individual rights are witting or unwitting accomplices in the CCP’s use of technology to repress its people and improve PLA capabilities. H. R. Mcmaster, National Review, "China’s Statist System Is No Match for Free Markets," 24 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'repress.' 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 repress

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for repress

Verb (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French represser, from Latin repressus, past participle of reprimere to check, from re- + premere to press — more at press

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Time Traveler for repress

Time Traveler

The first known use of repress was in the 14th century

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Statistics for repress

Last Updated

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Repress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for repress



English Language Learners Definition of repress

: to not allow yourself to do or express (something)
: to not allow yourself to remember (something, such as an unpleasant event)
: to control (someone or something) by force


re·​press | \ ri-ˈpres How to pronounce repress (audio) \
repressed; repressing

Kids Definition of repress

: to hold in check by or as if by pressure On seeing his haircut, I had to repress a laugh.


transitive verb
re·​press | \ ri-ˈpres How to pronounce repress (audio) \

Medical Definition of repress

1 : to exclude from consciousness repress conflicts
2 : to inactivate (a gene or formation of a gene product) by allosteric combination at a DNA binding site

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Comments on repress

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