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

  • adj. Difficult to bear; burdensome: oppressive laws.
  • adj. Exercising power arbitrarily and often unjustly; tyrannical.
  • adj. Weighing heavily on the senses or spirit: oppressive weather. See Synonyms at burdensome.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Burdensome or difficult to bear.
  • adj. Tyrannical or exercising unjust power.
  • adj. Weighing heavily on the spirit; intense, or overwhelming

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Unreasonably burdensome; unjustly severe, rigorous, or harsh
  • adj. Using oppression; tyrannical.
  • adj. Heavy; overpowering; hard to be borne; creating a sense of heavy burden.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Unreasonably burdensome; unjustly severe: as, oppressive taxes; oppressive exactions of service.
  • Given or inclined to oppression; tyrannical: as, an oppressive government.
  • Heavy; overpowering; overwhelming; burdensome; causing discomfort or uneasiness: as, oppressive grief or woe.

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

  • adj. weighing heavily on the senses or spirit
  • adj. marked by unjust severity or arbitrary behavior


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • In 1939, Manipuri women launched what was called Nupi Lan, or the women's war, against the maharaja that ruled the kingdom over what they called his oppressive policies.

    NYT > Home Page

  • The feminists rejoiced because all the cash went to women, thereby deconstructing what they called the oppressive patriarchy, and the liberals rejoiced because these handouts required more bureaucrats and higher taxes.

    ChronWatch - Articles

  • The key to keeping that form becoming unnecessarily oppressive is to put a hold on institutional punishments like this one.

    Your Right Hand Thief

  • Link via Neha, who also says this: I think it's crucial to remember that this just isn't about living in oppressive regimes.

    Archive 2006-01-01

  • What some perceive as oppressive is perceived as liberating for many second-generation American Muslim women, as they blend their parents 'religion with their place in the "new country" and American society.

    Science Press Releases

  • Proxies like Privoxy, FoxyProxy, Tor and Vidalia can be used by anybody, but most notably by web browsers in oppressive countries to disguise their identity and location.

    Speaking of Paranoid: Google is blocking privacy proxies

  • What's further oppressive is in denying that, as things stand currently, whether we like it or not, the people who are generally tasked with the charge of these marginally controllable human beings are largely female.

    Dru Blood - I believe in the inherent goodness of all beings: Comparitive Oppression

  • After an exhausting drill in oppressive heat, Mia Hamm jogged off the field. - Rejuvenated Hamm still a reluctant star

  • He even contended that Orwell was wrong and that technology, far from being oppressive, is actually liberating.

    Answering Orwell

  • He has called on young Muslims to enlist and fight what he called the oppressive powers.

    CNN Transcript Oct 3, 2001


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  • "The silence is so oppressive"


    March 12, 2008