from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny.
  • transitive v. To weigh heavily on: Poverty oppresses the spirit.
  • transitive v. Obsolete To overwhelm or crush.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. Physically to press down on (someone) with harmful effects; to smother, crush.
  • v. To keep down by force
  • v. To make sad or gloomy

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To impose excessive burdens upon; to overload; hence, to treat with unjust rigor or with cruelty.
  • transitive v. To ravish; to violate.
  • transitive v. To put down; to crush out; to suppress.
  • transitive v. To produce a sensation of weight in (some part of the body).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To press against or upon.
  • To press unduly upon or against; overburden; weigh down, literally or figuratively: as, oppressed with care or anxiety; oppressed with fear.
  • To overpower or overcome; overbear or overwhelm; suppress; subdue.
  • To make languid; affect with lassitude: as, oppressed with the heat of the weather.
  • To sit or lie heavy on: as, excess of food oppresses the stomach.
  • To load or burden with cruel, unjust, or unreasonable impositions or restraints; treat with injustice or undue severity; wield authority over in a burdensome, harsh, or tyrannical manner; keep down by an unjust exercise of power.
  • To ravish. Chaucer.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. cause to suffer
  • v. come down on or keep down by unjust use of one's authority


Middle English oppressen, from Old French opresser, back-formation from oppression, oppression, from Latin oppressiō, oppressiōn-, from oppressus, past participle of opprimere, to press against : ob-, against; see ob- + premere, to press; see per-4 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English oppressen, from Old French oppresser, from Medieval Latin oppressare ("to press against, oppress"), frequentive of Latin opprimere, past participle oppressus ("to press against, press together, oppress"), from ob ("against") + premere, past participle pressus ("to press"); see press. (Wiktionary)



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