Definition of repress in English:



  • 1 Subdue (someone or something) by force.

    ‘the uprisings were repressed’
    • ‘The June 1848 uprising was savagely repressed, as far as we know without Vidocq's help, but Lamartine's remark is still a startling tribute to his power.’
    • ‘Such interest, however, does not provide a morally satisfactory justification for violently repressing the Pullman strike.’
    • ‘The Soviet domination of Central Asia was catastrophic - during Stalin's rule in particular, the traditional way of life of its people was brutally repressed if not destroyed.’
    • ‘Some of these groups were brutally repressed by the dictator.’
    • ‘To the evident delight of most citizens, the regime which had repressed them for so long was swept away.’
    • ‘The President's half-brothers, have all served as ministers and have ordered the assassination of their fellow countrymen abroad and repressed local uprisings and religious and ethnic minorities.’
    • ‘I think he finished repressing the Irish and was moving on to repress the Scots.’
    • ‘Mexican history has always contained a vast unofficial diaspora dating back a half century earlier, a story that remained repressed by both sides of its border until very recently.’
    • ‘The nation-wide railway strike of 1974 was repressed violently, foreshadowing things to come the following year.’
    • ‘The rebels dispersed and by the end of June the revolt had been repressed with ferocity everywhere.’
    • ‘They are victims of the continuing illegal occupation which represses freedom of speech.’
    • ‘During World War II, the Italian fascist government severely repressed the local mafia forces which were formed earlier by the gabbellotti, or caretakers of the estates for absentee landlords.’
    • ‘Anglo - American troops face a well organised militia who were especially repressed by the dictator and had hitherto seemed willing to cooperate with his removers.’
    oppress, subjugate, hold down, keep down, rule with a rod of iron, rule with an iron hand, dominate, intimidate, master, domineer over, tyrannize, subject, crush, overpower, overcome
    suppress, quell, quash, subdue, put down, put an end to, crush, squash, extinguish, stamp out, put a stop to, stop, end, nip in the bud
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Restrain, prevent, or inhibit (the expression or development of something)
      ‘Isabel couldn't repress a sharp cry of fear’
      • ‘Everything in such an environment, it goes without saying, tends to repress the creative and to stimulate the competitive impulses.’
      • ‘Passion seems to be repressed in Linda, who prefers control to stirred emotions, and who thinks that being ruled by passion goes against everything she stands for.’
      • ‘Alice, then, represses her own desires and submits to Rufus's desires.’
      • ‘Members of these parties come from the lower and poorer castes, who make up 70% of the population and have been repressed for centuries by a rigid Hindu social system.’
      • ‘It is their job to lobby politicians and persuade them to suppress, depress, repress, oppress, or do what ever it takes to maintain a grip on the price of silver.’
      • ‘As Wheeler and Kahn have noted, this shared impulse gestures to a primal desire to repress the mother's crucial role as a powerful agent in the birth of the male self.’
      • ‘As part landscape painting, part portraiture, the maps evoke a topography fixed forever in time, thus repressing the chaotic historical circumstances of Ireland during the years of the map's production from 1826 to 1852.’
      • ‘It reminds the narrator of his grandfather, an individual repressed by the system who went through his entire life obsequiously saying yes to all the men in power.’
      • ‘The sexual desire that Ben repressed will not go away either.’
      • ‘As the plot unfolds, Sonya finds that she has to repress herself in order to fit into mainstream American culture and attain her goals.’
      • ‘Expression is not expelled with menacing pitchfork alla Stravinsky nor repressed like Ravel.’
      • ‘By repressing female sexual expression in dharmic structures, the patriarchy limits female participation at socio-political and cultural levels.’
      • ‘Today, that which was repressed behind the Iron Curtain is now expressed, and point that bottle elsewhere before you open it, because its contents are under pressure.’
      • ‘Taboo is a desire so dangerous that it has to be repressed.’
      • ‘Using them, it seems that what is expressed in the former is repressed in the latter, and vice versa.’
      • ‘‘We need to look at obstacles in our organisational systems that repress the creative and spiritual energy of our people,’ she said.’
      • ‘These social and supernatural forces have come to represent anxieties and energies restrained, repressed, or dismissed in modern Japanese and Euro-American society.’
      • ‘Sanitized and allegedly ‘Oedipal free,’ Branagh's Hamlet avoids any representations of non-normative sexual desire, repressing the sexualized maternal body with a vengeance.’
      • ‘Qureshi thus highlights a particular element of Piombino's work, lyricism, which is often repressed in criticism about language poetry.’
      • ‘A mere eight years after Sebald voiced grave concerns about Germany's propensity to repress the past, to always be ‘looking and looking away at the same time,’ it is now no longer possible to look away.’
    2. 1.2Suppress (a thought or desire) so that it becomes or remains unconscious.
      ‘the thought that he had killed his brother was so terrible that he repressed it’
      • ‘Freud said they were disguised wishes, mostly sexual, that had been repressed and held within the unconscious mind.’
      • ‘Ironically, the men she meets have repressed their own desires and cannot freely enjoy the sexual delights she offers.’
      • ‘Second, by expressing desires that are repressed, silenced, or lost, fantasy literature enables those desires to be experienced on paper, perhaps postponing or replacing their realization in practice.’
      • ‘The mystery and the bad marriage frustrate the telling of the story, because so much is repressed, unspoken, festering.’
      • ‘His need for order, form, and tradition is a substitute for the id impulses that are repressed by his strong superego.’
      • ‘Some of the best stories in the collection centre on female characters who have repressed sexual desires for other women.’
      • ‘McWilliam examines how the French nation attempted to narrate, negotiate, memorialize, elide or repress its own past and the real conditions of its present.’
      • ‘In Women in Love, animals become the receptacles of man's deepest and darkest desires, ones that are often repressed in human interactions but filter to the surface when animals enter the equation.’
      • ‘Oftentimes we repress our motives to such an extent - for reasons of efficiency, self-protection, or otherwise - that they become completely invisible to us.’
      • ‘She's less of a horror because she represses it, and Ginger's more horrible because she accepts it.’
      • ‘It can serve the timid and the thick-skinned, the serious and the happy-go-lucky and the restrained or repressed and the emotionally ‘unbridled.’’
      • ‘‘I think Brigitte's been more successful in repressing her body, and repressing its desires, than Ginger was,’ says Perkins.’
      • ‘To become American women, as Schreier phrases it, they had to repress much of what made them ethnically, individually, and hence naturally different.’
      • ‘Oldham's voice is pointed, with every gasp repressed yet breathing desire.’
      • ‘In Bridges the people of the small town near the farm give the impression of being sexually repressed, judgmental, and gossipy.’
      • ‘Just as Jonathan appears to have repressed horrors that came back to haunt him as visions, so too did John.’
      • ‘In this way it resonates with her own work, thematising and literalising mnemonic fragments and inscriptions - making conscious what has been unconscious or repressed.’
      • ‘She in her buttoned-up cheongsams and high heels, he in his sober-toned shantung suits and narrow ties - they repress themselves in the high style of their day and wear their restrictions as badges of honor.’
      • ‘Right until the moment that the Tewkesbury trashers [Spunge] hit the stage Freud would have been proud of me; I had repressed my desire to have fun as though it was a bitter childhood memory.’
      • ‘Alongside this religious rituals were developed to protect the human ego from sexual impulses, thoughts and fantasies which had been repressed because the Church viewed such things as sinful.’
      restrain, hold back, keep back, hold in, bite back, suppress, fight back, keep in check, check, control, keep under control, curb, rein in, contain, silence, muffle, stifle, smother, swallow, choke back, strangle, gag
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Biology Prevent the transcription of (a gene).
      • ‘While examining the plant, researchers at several labs found that one of its genes, flc, represses flowering.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘keep back something objectionable’): from Latin repress- pressed back, checked, from the verb reprimere, from re- back + premere to press.