Definition of oppression in English:



  • 1Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.

    ‘a region shattered by oppression and killing’
    • ‘Feminist work has helped to highlight how oppressions constitute globalization and how revealing these oppressions can lead to new openings and understandings about agency.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their overemphasis on fragmentation, however, offers neither political nor intellectual support in confronting the oppressions with which feminism has historically been concerned.’
    • ‘The whole panoply of oppressions that scare our people and nation would be on the wane.’
    • ‘We've had wars, liberations, and 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘There are some oppressions you can't remain silent about,’ Almussa says.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The particular history of oppressions does differ, but their structure and consequences for the different groups is the same.’
    • ‘And people have critiqued Western reason precisely because ‘reason’ and ‘science’ have been such powerful tools to justify various 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.’
    • ‘Education, research, critical and theoretical thinking, and in-depth understanding of institutional oppressions remain necessary.’
    • ‘It is such myths (of past wrongs to be avenged or conformities to be observed) that trigger the chain of oppressions.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As Audre Lourde argued, if we are to work for true social change and justice, there cannot be ‘a hierarchy of 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.’
    • ‘This analysis not only reveals how multiple oppressions constitute the contemporary system, but also suggests new openings for change.’
    persecution, abuse, maltreatment, ill treatment, tyranny, despotism, repression, suppression, subjection, subjugation, enslavement, exploitation
    cruelty, ruthlessness, harshness, brutality, injustice, hardship, misery, suffering, pain, anguish, wretchedness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.
      • ‘The forces of hierarchy, domination and oppression are often said to be driving the capitalist pursuit of higher profits.’
      • ‘They must refrain from oppression and injustice and should help the persecuted.’
      • ‘Poverty and oppression are palpable here, as is the social anger of the working class at these conditions.’
      • ‘We want to end exploitation, oppression, injustice, inequality, poverty, hunger and violence.’
      • ‘Or perhaps some people are simply destined to poverty, oppression and abuse.’
      • ‘Millions of people the world over have marched against war, privatisation, oppression and poverty.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Several students felt that the stories of oppression and abuse that they had heard had been difficult to endure.’
      • ‘The politicians used their opportunity to inflict mass poverty, oppression and murder.’
      • ‘Maybe she should go live among people who have nothing and who know nothing other than poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘There is evidence that drugs can be a symptom of urban poverty and oppression.’
      • ‘The republic was unlike all the countries of old Europe, which were based on oppression, poverty and ignorance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now people are subjected to oppression like before independence.’
      • ‘Ages of oppression and poverty rarely produce proud and warlike spirits.’
      • ‘On the other hand, Walker's childhood was not devoid of exposure to oppression and injustice.’
      • ‘We owe it to all those facing occupation, oppression, poverty and injustice.’
      • ‘Now we all labour under the cynical belief that poverty, oppression, exploitation is our destiny and we have to stay with it.’
      persecution, abuse, maltreatment, ill treatment, tyranny, despotism, repression, suppression, subjection, subjugation, enslavement, exploitation
      cruelty, ruthlessness, harshness, brutality, injustice, hardship, misery, suffering, pain, anguish, wretchedness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Mental pressure or distress.
      ‘her 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.’
      • ‘Tens of millions around the globe see it, with justification, as an emblem of their oppression and misery.’
      • ‘Their enclosed spaces offer shelter and protection without any sense of oppression.’
      • ‘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).