verb (used with object)

to keep under control, check, or suppress (desires, feelings, actions, tears, etc.).
to keep down or suppress (anything objectionable).
to put down or quell (sedition, disorder, etc.).
to reduce (persons) to subjection.
Psychoanalysis. to reject (painful or disagreeable ideas, memories, feelings, or impulses) from the conscious mind.

verb (used without object)

to initiate or undergo repression.

Origin of repress

1325–75; Middle English repressen < Latin repressus (past participle of reprimere), equivalent to re- re- + pressus, past participle of primere to press1
Related formsre·press·i·ble, adjectivenon·re·press·i·ble, adjectivenon·re·press·i·ble·ness, nounnon·re·press·i·bly, adverbo·ver·re·press, verb (used with object)un·re·press·i·ble, adjective
Can be confusedoppress repress

Synonyms for repress

Synonym study

1. See check1.

Antonyms for repress

1–4. foster.



verb (used with or without object)

to press again or anew.

Origin of re-press

First recorded in 1870–75; re- + press1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for repress

Contemporary Examples of repress

Historical Examples of repress

  • She was quite unable to repress a vulgar interest in the menials that served her.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • The older man could not repress a cold smile—it had had more effect than he had hoped.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • At the sight of it Frank could not repress an exclamation of astonishment.

  • She was unable to repress a glance of admiration at me as she moved off.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Struggling to repress my tears, I said no more, but passed out, cut to the heart.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

British Dictionary definitions for repress


verb (tr)

to keep (feelings, etc) under control; suppress or restrainto repress a desire
to put into a state of subjugationto repress a people
psychoanal to banish (thoughts and impulses that conflict with conventional standards of conduct) from one's conscious mind
Derived Formsrepresser, nounrepressible, adjective

Word Origin for repress

C14: from Latin reprimere to press back, from re- + premere to press 1
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 repress

late 14c., "to check, restrain," from Latin repressus, past participle of reprimere "hold back, curb," figuratively "check, confine, restrain, refrain," from re- "back" (see re-) + premere "to push" (see press (v.1)).

Used of feelings or desires from late 14c.; in the purely psychological sense, it represents German verdrängen (Freud, 1893), first attested 1904 (implied in repressed). Meaning "to put down" (a rebellion, etc.) is from late 15c. Related: Repressed; repressing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

repress in Medicine




To hold back by an act of volition.
To exclude something from the conscious mind.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.