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oppress

[uh-pres] /əˈprɛs/
verb (used with object)
1.
to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints; subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority or power:
a people oppressed by totalitarianism.
2.
to lie heavily upon (the mind, a person, etc.):
Care and sorrow oppressed them.
3.
to weigh down, as sleep or weariness does.
4.
Archaic. to put down; subdue or suppress.
5.
Archaic. to press upon or against; crush.
Origin of oppress
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English oppressen < Middle French oppresser < Medieval Latin oppressāre, derivative of Latin oppressus past participle of opprimere to squeeze, suffocate, equivalent to op- op- + -primere (combining form of premere) to press1
Related forms
oppressible, adjective
oppressor, noun
preoppress, verb (used with object)
preoppressor, noun
reoppress, verb (used with object)
self-oppressor, noun
unoppressed, adjective
unoppressible, adjective
Can be confused
oppress, repress.
Synonyms
1, 2. Oppress, depress, both having the literal meaning to press down upon, to cause to sink, are today mainly limited to figurative applications. To oppress is usually to subject (a people) to burdens, to undue exercise of authority, and the like; its chief application, therefore, is to a social or political situation: a tyrant oppressing his subjects. Depress suggests mainly the psychological effect, upon the individual, of unpleasant conditions, situations, etc., that sadden and discourage: depressed by the news. When oppress is sometimes used in this sense, it suggests a psychological attitude of more complete hopelessness: oppressed by a sense of failure. 1. maltreat, persecute.
Antonyms
2. uphold, encourage.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for oppress
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I am unable to stand longer to give utterance to the feelings of gratitude which oppress me.

    General Scott General Marcus J. Wright
  • How you oppress me, my dearest friend, with your politeness!

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • I do not allow care to oppress me; I do not shrink from responsibility; I am not afraid of danger.

  • But I will not oppress you, my dearest friend, with further reflections of this sort.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • White Fang knew the law well: to oppress the weak and obey the strong.

    White Fang Jack London
British Dictionary definitions for oppress

oppress

/əˈprɛs/
verb (transitive)
1.
to subjugate by cruelty, force, etc
2.
to afflict or torment
3.
to lie heavy on (the mind, imagination, etc)
4.
an obsolete word for overwhelm
Derived Forms
oppressingly, adverb
oppressor, noun
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Medieval Latin oppressāre, from Latin opprimere, from ob- against + premere to press
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for oppress
v.

mid-14c., from Old French opresser "oppress, afflict; torment, smother" (13c.), from Medieval Latin oppressare, frequentative of Latin opprimere "press against, press together, press down;" figuratively "crush, put down, subdue, prosecute relentlessly" (in Late Latin "to rape"), from ob "against" (see ob-) + premere "to press, push" (see press (v.1)).

It is the due [external] restraint and not the moderation of rulers that constitutes a state of liberty; as the power to oppress, though never exercised, does a state of slavery. [St. George Tucker, "View of the Constitution of the United States," 1803]
Related: Oppressed; oppressing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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