[ir-i-pres-uh-buh l]


incapable of being repressed or restrained; uncontrollable: irrepressible laughter.

Origin of irrepressible

First recorded in 1805–15; ir-2 + repressible
Related formsir·re·press·i·bil·i·ty, ir·re·press·i·ble·ness, nounir·re·press·i·bly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for irrepressible



not capable of being repressed, controlled, or restrained
Derived Formsirrepressibility or irrepressibleness, nounirrepressibly, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for irrepressible

1767, from assimilated form of in- (1) "not, opposite of" + repressible (see repress).

Increase of population, which is filling the States out to their very borders, together with a new and extended network of railroads and other avenues, and an internal commerce which daily becomes more intimate, is rapidly bringing the States into a higher and more perfect social unity or consolidation. Thus, these antagonistic systems are continually coming into closer contact, and collision results.

Shall I tell you what this collision means? They who think that it is accidental, unnecessary, the work of interested or fanatical agitators, and therefor ephemeral, mistake the case altogether. It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free-labor nation. [William H. Seward, speech at Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 2, 1858]

Related: Irrepressibly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper