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[uh-pres] /əˈprɛs/

verb (used with object)
to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints; subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority or power:
a people oppressed by totalitarianism.
to lie heavily upon (the mind, a person, etc.):
Care and sorrow oppressed them.
to weigh down, as sleep or weariness does.
Archaic. to put down; subdue or suppress.
Archaic. to press upon or against; crush.
verb (transitive)
to subjugate by cruelty, force, etc
to afflict or torment
to lie heavy on (the mind, imagination, etc)
an obsolete word for overwhelm

mid-14c., from Old French opresser “oppress, afflict; torment, smother” (13c.), from Medieval Latin oppressare, frequentative of Latin opprimere “press against, press together, press down;” figuratively “crush, put down, subdue, prosecute relentlessly” (in Late Latin “to rape”), from ob “against” (see ob-) + premere “to press, push” (see press (v.1)).

It is the due [external] restraint and not the moderation of rulers that constitutes a state of liberty; as the power to oppress, though never exercised, does a state of slavery. [St. George Tucker, “View of the Constitution of the United States,” 1803]

Related: Oppressed; oppressing.


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