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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 oppressors
  • Geeks of the world unite, and overthrow your oppressors.
  • So, it's not surprising they were offended by this shrine to their oppressors.
  • He always takes the part of the poor people against their oppressors.
  • If they had not themselves been tools of the colonialist oppressors, they were dupes of their knowing research subjects.
  • All around us are people who, if lived in a different place or era, would oppress or sympathize with oppressors.
  • They'd adopted the social media tools and used them to overthrow their oppressors by speaking as one.
  • The struggle was not only that of a downtrodden people fighting foreign oppressors.
  • In the camps, as she described his findings, one lost all autonomy and came to identify with one's oppressors.
  • Thus they lose the sacred character that attaches to the struggle of the oppressed against oppressors.
  • There are howling skirmishes along the way, with hordes of sombreroed peasants often routing the oppressors.
British Dictionary definitions for oppressors

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 oppressors

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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