oppress

[ uh-pres ]
/ əˈprɛs /

verb (used with object)

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

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

SYNONYMS FOR oppress

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.

Related forms

Can be confused

oppress repress
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for oppress

British Dictionary definitions for oppress

oppress

/ (əˈprɛs) /

verb (tr)

to subjugate by cruelty, force, etc
to afflict or torment
to lie heavy on (the mind, imagination, etc)
an obsolete word for overwhelm

Derived Forms

oppressingly, adverboppressor, noun

Word Origin for oppress

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