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 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. 2019

Examples from the Web for oppressiveness

Historical Examples of oppressiveness

  • 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.


    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

British Dictionary definitions for oppressiveness



cruel, harsh, or tyrannical
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 oppressiveness



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper