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[uh-pres-iv] /əˈprɛs ɪv/
burdensome, unjustly harsh, or tyrannical:
an oppressive king; oppressive laws.
causing discomfort by being excessive, intense, elaborate, etc.:
oppressive heat.
distressing or grievous:
oppressive sorrows.
Origin of oppressive
1620-30; < Medieval Latin oppresīvus, equivalent to oppress(us) (see oppress) + -īvus -ive
Related forms
oppressively, adverb
oppressiveness, noun
nonoppressive, adjective
nonoppressively, adverb
nonoppressiveness, noun
self-oppressive, adjective
unoppressive, adjective
unoppressively, adverb
unoppressiveness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for oppressiveness
Historical Examples
  • In its times of least oppressiveness it was an enormity, if he were innocent.

    Sir Walter Ralegh William Stebbing
  • He got the feeling of being expected to contribute to the oppressiveness of the occasion.

    Fidelity Susan Glaspell
  • For a moment the stillness seemed tangible in its oppressiveness.

  • In order to give you a faint idea of the oppressiveness of our etiquette, I shall mention a few examples.

    Letters of a Javanese Princess Raden Adjeng Kartini
  • He had no doubt of the oppressiveness of Republican rule, and the need of shaking it off by vigorous measures.

    The Negro and the Nation George S. Merriam
  • The midsummer sun was now high in the heavens, with just a little stir in the air to temper its warmth and oppressiveness.

    The Loyalist James Francis Barrett
  • There was no suggestion of oppressiveness in the air and a windsail was not necessary to keep the cabin fresh and cool.

    In the Track of the Trades Lewis R. Freeman
  • The kind of emotion which this examination, joined to the oppressiveness of the air, occasioned, was choking the baron.

  • The oppressiveness of people who hold a great many things sacred, and cannot bear that they should be jested about, is very great.

    Joyous Gard Arthur Christopher Benson
  • The dew-point is a matter of really vital consequence in the question of the oppressiveness of the atmosphere or its reverse.

British Dictionary definitions for oppressiveness


cruel, harsh, or tyrannical
heavy, constricting, or depressing
Derived Forms
oppressively, adverb
oppressiveness, noun
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 oppressiveness



1640s, from Medieval Latin oppressivus, from oppress-, past participle stem of opprimere (see oppress). Related: Oppressively; oppressiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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