Definition of oppression in English:



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

    ‘a region shattered by oppression and killing’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The whole panoply of oppressions that scare our people and nation would be on the wane.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is such myths (of past wrongs to be avenged or conformities to be observed) that trigger the chain of oppressions.’
    • ‘We've had wars, liberations, and oppressions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their overemphasis on fragmentation, however, offers neither political nor intellectual support in confronting the oppressions with which feminism has historically been concerned.’
    • ‘This analysis not only reveals how multiple oppressions constitute the contemporary system, but also suggests new openings for change.’
    • ‘The particular history of oppressions does differ, but their structure and consequences for the different groups is the same.’
    • ‘Education, research, critical and theoretical thinking, and in-depth understanding of institutional oppressions remain necessary.’
    • ‘And people have critiqued Western reason precisely because ‘reason’ and ‘science’ have been such powerful tools to justify various oppressions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Feminist work has helped to highlight how oppressions constitute globalization and how revealing these oppressions can lead to new openings and understandings about agency.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As Audre Lourde argued, if we are to work for true social change and justice, there cannot be ‘a hierarchy of 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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘‘There are some oppressions you can't remain silent about,’ Almussa says.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘Several students felt that the stories of oppression and abuse that they had heard had been difficult to endure.’
      • ‘Millions of people the world over have marched against war, privatisation, oppression and poverty.’
      • ‘The forces of hierarchy, domination and oppression are often said to be driving the capitalist pursuit of higher profits.’
      • ‘Anyway, real folk singers like to sing about death, pain, injustice, poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘The politicians used their opportunity to inflict mass poverty, oppression and murder.’
      • ‘Now people are subjected to oppression like before independence.’
      • ‘Starvation, slavery, oppression and fear continue to dominate much of our world.’
      • ‘We want to end exploitation, oppression, injustice, inequality, poverty, hunger and violence.’
      • ‘On the other hand, Walker's childhood was not devoid of exposure to oppression and injustice.’
      • ‘Or perhaps some people are simply destined to poverty, oppression and abuse.’
      • ‘Maybe she should go live among people who have nothing and who know nothing other than poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘Ages of oppression and poverty rarely produce proud and warlike spirits.’
      • ‘We owe it to all those facing occupation, oppression, poverty and injustice.’
      • ‘The republic was unlike all the countries of old Europe, which were based on oppression, poverty and ignorance.’
      • ‘There is evidence that drugs can be a symptom of urban poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘Now we all labour under the cynical belief that poverty, oppression, exploitation is our destiny and we have to stay with it.’
      • ‘They are the source of wealth and the hope of a world weary of poverty and weary of oppression.’
      • ‘Some of Elliot's poems are of genuine quality, and his themes of poverty and oppression are deeply felt.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tens of millions around the globe see it, with justification, as an emblem of their oppression and misery.’
      • ‘This is a grim, bleak little movie with precious little emotion to it and a real sense of oppression.’


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