See more synonyms for oppressive on Thesaurus.com
  1. burdensome, unjustly harsh, or tyrannical: an oppressive king; oppressive laws.
  2. causing discomfort by being excessive, intense, elaborate, etc.: oppressive heat.
  3. distressing or grievous: oppressive sorrows.

Origin of oppressive

1620–30; < Medieval Latin oppresīvus, equivalent to oppress(us) (see oppress) + -īvus -ive
Related formsop·pres·sive·ly, adverbop·pres·sive·ness, nounnon·op·pres·sive, adjectivenon·op·pres·sive·ly, adverbnon·op·pres·sive·ness, nounself-op·pres·sive, adjectiveun·op·pres·sive, adjectiveun·op·pres·sive·ly, adverbun·op·pres·sive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for oppressive

Contemporary Examples of oppressive

Historical Examples of oppressive

  • There the flush and bloom of newness were oppressive to the right-minded.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • If formed on equal and just principles, it can not be oppressive.

  • Not a sound disturbed the oppressive quiet, not the quiver of a twig.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

  • The day was sultry, and the heat, even in the dense shade of the jungle, oppressive.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • His wristbands and collar were oppressive; his voice and manner were oppressive.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for oppressive


  1. cruel, harsh, or tyrannical
  2. heavy, constricting, or depressing
Derived Formsoppressively, adverboppressiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for oppressive

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper