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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 for oppressor
  • If you deny me these basic human rights, then you are an oppressor.
  • When you rejoice in oppressing, you are an oppressor.
  • It should be stressed that the oppressor cannot free the oppressed.
  • One of the horrors of the time was the cheek-by-jowl coexistence of oppressor and oppressed.
  • Nevertheless, in each case the perpetrator would be the oppressor.
  • Not even the oppressor really believes in what he is doing, anymore, let alone the revolutionary.
  • Its extortionate rates make the need, and the need of the poor was ever the opportunity of their oppressor.
  • Anyone who would live here during that period would recognize who was the oppressor and who was the oppressed.
  • Oppressed people do not commit suicide to protest against their oppressor.
  • It says to us first that the oppressor never voluntarily gives freedom to the oppressed.
British Dictionary definitions for oppressor

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 oppressor
n.

c.1400, from Old French opresseor, from Latin oppressor, from opprimere (see oppress (v.)).

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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