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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
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. 2014.
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Examples from the web for oppress
  • 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.
  • The harder you fight to oppress, the more you will fail.
  • Paying money or investing in countries that makes dictators who oppress citizens strong is no help to the poor at all.
  • Copyright are an oppressive measure to oppress learning and sharing of knowledge.
  • While that check is efficient, there is no reason to fear that the king or the nobles will oppress the people.
  • It is simultaneously the principle that unites and the principle that gives the nation the alleged right to oppress.
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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