- 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.
- to lie heavily upon (the mind, a person, etc.): Care and sorrow oppressed them.
- to weigh down, as sleep or weariness does.
- Archaic. to put down; subdue or suppress.
- Archaic. to press upon or against; crush.
Origin of oppress
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for oppress
Instead, it was proof the government is out to oppress them.The Christian Right’s New GOTV Motivator
November 7, 2014
Few will be heartened by the fact that the debt will oppress race-neutrally.Did Needs-Blind Admission Create the College Debt Crisis?
July 6, 2014
Sure, as Sotomayor wrote, “democratically approved legislation can oppress minority groups.”Affirmative Action Isn’t Oppressive, but the Roberts Court Wants to End It Anyway
April 23, 2014
You can only oppress a community for so long before they will fight with toothpicks against machine guns.Sanford Mourns the Loss of Trayvon All Over Again
July 14, 2013
Hamas claims to be fighting for freedom while invoking laws that oppress women and religious minorities.Don’t Tread On My Hair, Hamas
April 4, 2013
And do they not make use of your own generosity to oppress you?
How you oppress me, my dearest friend, with your politeness!
But I will not oppress you, my dearest friend, with further reflections of this sort.Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)
White Fang knew the law well: to oppress the weak and obey the strong.
The code he learned was to obey the strong and to oppress the weak.
- to subjugate by cruelty, force, etc
- to afflict or torment
- to lie heavy on (the mind, imagination, etc)
- an obsolete word for overwhelm
Word Origin and History for oppress
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.