Definition of oppression in English:



mass noun
  • 1Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority.

    ‘a region shattered by oppression and killing’
    • ‘We often became trapped in internal competition for ‘who is the most oppressed,’ resulting in a hierarchy of oppressions, each group guilt tripping the other.’
    • ‘In recent years I've come to feel that all the directed oppressions we practice on one another are based not on principles of any kind, but on vulnerability.’
    • ‘But for every woman trying to move patriarchal, racist and militarist mountains, there were thousands who just went on living life as it was for women then, with all its oppressions.’
    • ‘It is a struggle to also overcome oppressions based on racism and economic exploitation, as well as a struggle to overcome the legacy of colonialism.’
    • ‘We've had wars, liberations, and oppressions.’
    • ‘Education, research, critical and theoretical thinking, and in-depth understanding of institutional oppressions remain necessary.’
    • ‘The trick is always to look at what we are doing today as if we were someplace in the future looking back and figure out what the oppressions and the injustices are that we are committing today and to get them out of our lives.’
    • ‘If nothing is done to address the root problems behind the oppressions I can see it happening again, I can't see any hope really.’
    • ‘Feminist work has helped to highlight how oppressions constitute globalization and how revealing these oppressions can lead to new openings and understandings about agency.’
    • ‘It is such myths (of past wrongs to be avenged or conformities to be observed) that trigger the chain of oppressions.’
    • ‘Their overemphasis on fragmentation, however, offers neither political nor intellectual support in confronting the oppressions with which feminism has historically been concerned.’
    • ‘For example, in one essay he shows how African Americans in the South sought to disable or challenge the oppressions even before the Civil Rights era with tactics like fare beating and silent protest.’
    • ‘‘There are some oppressions you can't remain silent about,’ Almussa says.’
    • ‘The particular history of oppressions does differ, but their structure and consequences for the different groups is the same.’
    • ‘The view of a human being as a possession, rather than a full person with the right to self-determination, is the foundation of many oppressions, and also the foundation of abuse.’
    • ‘The whole panoply of oppressions that scare our people and nation would be on the wane.’
    • ‘This analysis not only reveals how multiple oppressions constitute the contemporary system, but also suggests new openings for change.’
    • ‘And people have critiqued Western reason precisely because ‘reason’ and ‘science’ have been such powerful tools to justify various oppressions.’
    • ‘As Audre Lourde argued, if we are to work for true social change and justice, there cannot be ‘a hierarchy of oppressions.’’
    • ‘It is in this way that political change occurs, new freedoms or new oppressions emerge, and conceptions of what is politically acceptable, the ‘theory’ of politics, change over time.’
    persecution, abuse, maltreatment, ill treatment, tyranny, despotism, repression, suppression, subjection, subjugation, enslavement, exploitation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The state of being subject to oppressive treatment.
      ‘a response to collective poverty and oppression’
      • ‘On the other hand, Walker's childhood was not devoid of exposure to oppression and injustice.’
      • ‘Anyway, real folk singers like to sing about death, pain, injustice, poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘Starvation, slavery, oppression and fear continue to dominate much of our world.’
      • ‘There is evidence that drugs can be a symptom of urban poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘Now people are subjected to oppression like before independence.’
      • ‘Some of Elliot's poems are of genuine quality, and his themes of poverty and oppression are deeply felt.’
      • ‘Several students felt that the stories of oppression and abuse that they had heard had been difficult to endure.’
      • ‘The republic was unlike all the countries of old Europe, which were based on oppression, poverty and ignorance.’
      • ‘Now we all labour under the cynical belief that poverty, oppression, exploitation is our destiny and we have to stay with it.’
      • ‘The politicians used their opportunity to inflict mass poverty, oppression and murder.’
      • ‘Poverty and oppression are palpable here, as is the social anger of the working class at these conditions.’
      • ‘They must refrain from oppression and injustice and should help the persecuted.’
      • ‘We want to end exploitation, oppression, injustice, inequality, poverty, hunger and violence.’
      • ‘Millions of people the world over have marched against war, privatisation, oppression and poverty.’
      • ‘Ages of oppression and poverty rarely produce proud and warlike spirits.’
      • ‘We owe it to all those facing occupation, oppression, poverty and injustice.’
      • ‘Maybe she should go live among people who have nothing and who know nothing other than poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘Or perhaps some people are simply destined to poverty, oppression and abuse.’
      • ‘They are the source of wealth and the hope of a world weary of poverty and weary of oppression.’
      • ‘The forces of hierarchy, domination and oppression are often said to be driving the capitalist pursuit of higher profits.’
      persecution, abuse, maltreatment, ill treatment, tyranny, despotism, repression, suppression, subjection, subjugation, enslavement, exploitation
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Mental pressure or distress.
      ‘Beatrice's mood had initially been alarm and a sense of oppression’
      • ‘This is a grim, bleak little movie with precious little emotion to it and a real sense of oppression.’
      • ‘Tens of millions around the globe see it, with justification, as an emblem of their oppression and misery.’
      • ‘Statists see a world of oppression and pain, and get depressed because of global warming and evil multinationals.’
      • ‘Their enclosed spaces offer shelter and protection without any sense of oppression.’


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin oppressio(n-), from the verb opprimere (see oppress).