- The definition of oppress is to keep something down using cruel or unjust power.
An example of oppress is for a dictator to force the poor people of his country to work in terrible conditions for little pay.
- To oppress is to have something worry you or weigh you down.
An example of oppress is to have worry that you might be laid off from your job.
- to weigh heavily on the mind, spirits, or senses of; worry; trouble
- to keep down by the cruel or unjust use of power or authority; rule harshly; tyrannize over
- to crush; trample down
- to overpower; subdue
Origin of oppressMiddle English oppressen ; from Old French oppresser ; from Medieval Latin oppressare ; from Classical Latin oppressus, past participle of opprimere, to press against ; from ob- (see ob-) + premere, press
transitive verbop·pressed, op·press·ing, op·press·es
- To keep down by severe and unjust use of force or authority: a people who were oppressed by tyranny.
- To cause to feel worried or depressed: “People were at a loss &ellipsis; oppressed by the atmosphere of the dead man's room” (Ward Just).
- Obsolete To overwhelm or crush.
Origin of oppressMiddle 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.
(third-person singular simple present oppresses, present participle oppressing, simple past and past participle oppressed)
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.