Synonyms & Antonyms of oppressive

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About oppressive

How does the adjective oppressive contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of oppressive are burdensome, exacting, and onerous. While all these words mean "imposing hardship," oppressive implies extreme harshness or severity in what is imposed.

the oppressive tyranny of a police state

When can burdensome be used instead of oppressive?

In some situations, the words burdensome and oppressive are roughly equivalent. However, burdensome suggests causing mental as well as physical strain.

burdensome responsibilities

When would exacting be a good substitute for oppressive?

While the synonyms exacting and oppressive are close in meaning, exacting implies rigor or sternness rather than tyranny or injustice in the demands made or in the one demanding.

an exacting employer

Where would onerous be a reasonable alternative to oppressive?

The words onerous and oppressive are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, onerous stresses being laborious and heavy especially because distasteful.

the onerous task of cleaning up the mess

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about oppressive

Time Traveler for oppressive

Time Traveler

The first known use of oppressive was circa 1677

See more words from the same year

Cite this Entry

“Oppressive.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on oppressive

Dictionary: Definition of oppressive

Nglish: Translation of oppressive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oppressive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on oppressive

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!