oppress

[uh-pres]
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:
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

oppressible, adjective
oppressor, noun
preoppress, verb (used with object)
preoppressor, noun
reoppress, verb (used with object)
self-oppressor, noun
unoppressed, adjective
unoppressible, adjective

oppress, repress.


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.


2. uphold, encourage.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
oppress (əˈprɛs)
 
vb
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
 
[C14: via Old French from Medieval Latin oppressāre, from Latin opprimere, from ob- against + premere to press]
 
op'pressingly
 
adv
 
op'pressor
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

oppress
mid-14c., from O.Fr. oppresser (13c.), from M.L. oppressare, freq. of L. opprimere "press against, crush" (in L.L. "to rape"), from ob "against" + 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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
We need to understand why the word was used, who used it, and the ways it
  oppressed and continues to oppress.
All around us are people who, if lived in a different place or era, would
  oppress or sympathize with oppressors.
We had a revolt in our community against those people who were in here trying
  to exploit and oppress us.
In both books the elite uses power to oppress, not enlighten.
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