Definition of oppressive in English:



  • 1Unjustly inflicting hardship and constraint, especially on a minority or other subordinate group.

    ‘an oppressive dictatorship’
    • ‘It is no longer possible for the surrounding dictatorships to defend their oppressive ways as the immutable order of things.’
    • ‘If they are made to work, and are chastised, but stinted of their food, such treatment is oppressive, and saps their strength.’
    • ‘No, this won't be a naval skirmish with some oppressive foreign dictator.’
    • ‘Whatever oppressive tactics the authorities use, we should not let them stop us protesting and expressing our anger about their atrocities.’
    • ‘He threw out an estimate that perhaps two cents from every litre of gas we buy goes to support a dictatorship or other oppressive forms of government.’
    • ‘They found government harsh and oppressive, complaining of the disparities between the rich and poor.’
    • ‘Examples of the oppressive and repressive treatment of women abound.’
    • ‘Does the coercive and oppressive treatment of weaving children differ only by degree from the treatment of all carpet weavers?’
    • ‘Your great State has never experienced the misfortune of being occupied, and Australians never had to flee from an oppressive dictatorship.’
    • ‘We would be tragic heroes, battling the unjustness of an oppressive society.’
    • ‘He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime.’
    • ‘People take their future into their own hands and rebel against an oppressive authority.’
    • ‘I hated the unjust, oppressive system so, in my twenties, I fled the country illegally to seek truth and freedom in the West.’
    • ‘Women's home life was oppressive and harsh even among the better classes.’
    • ‘In many cases oppressive authorities actively prevent normal migration processing from occurring.’
    • ‘I could give you hundreds of examples of local communities that have been just as oppressive and unjust as nation states.’
    • ‘Unless supplemented and constrained by minority rights, state nation-building is likely to be oppressive and unjust.’
    • ‘It's ironic that so many people use a patriarchal and racist ideology to critique what they think is an engine of oppressive authority.’
    • ‘They are willing to espouse the most oppressive dictatorship on earth just to be different!’
    • ‘U.S. juries have a proud and heroic tradition of standing up to tyranny and saying no to oppressive, unjust, or misapplied laws.’
    harsh, cruel, brutal, repressive, crushing, tyrannical, tyrannous, iron-fisted, domineering, autocratic, dictatorial, undemocratic, anti-democratic, despotic, draconian, punitive
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    1. 1.1Weighing heavily on the mind or spirits; causing depression or discomfort.
      ‘a profound loneliness, an oppressive emptiness’
      • ‘When Hetty gets the good news, she packs a rucksack full of books and heads for Wordsworth country to escape the oppressive atmosphere at home.’
      • ‘There is very little dialogue in the film, furthering the, at times, oppressive silence weighing upon the viewer.’
      • ‘David Parry, conducting, takes the score slowly, generating an atmosphere of oppressive malignancy.’
      • ‘Also, one has to brave crowds of tourists, loud music and a generally oppressive high-tech atmosphere to get to the classical section.’
      • ‘The same oppressive atmosphere pervades the town of Soham.’
      • ‘In fact, not a lot happens at all in the first book, it mostly just introduces the main characters and sets up the oppressive atmosphere of the castle.’
      • ‘The feeling that we have to sort it all out in our minds and make judgments about it can be quite oppressive.’
      • ‘However, in another few seconds, they were silent again and the oppressive atmosphere returned.’
      • ‘Sometimes, perhaps, the vastness of sky was oppressive in the way wilderness weighed on McGregor's Canadians.’
      • ‘It may feel somewhat oppressive for those readers who don't mind a crazy wife in the attic but ultimately prefer to see intelligent love conquer all.’
      • ‘Wentworth had a threateningly dark and oppressive atmosphere whereas I can honestly say I've been in scarier factory canteens than the one at Larkhall.’
      • ‘Composed shortly after The Turn of the Screw, the Canticle shares that opera's claustrophobic, oppressive atmosphere.’
      • ‘The building radiated an oppressive atmosphere, loaded with the anguish of men and women facing death.’
      • ‘And that oppressive atmosphere is reinforced even by absence.’
      • ‘There was an oppressive atmosphere in the room.’
      • ‘This brought a heavily oppressive silence into the room.’
      • ‘Wig also found that, on top of the normal pressure of call center work, the atmosphere was very oppressive.’
      • ‘And in one very long day, these characters are about to enter the autumn of their lives with an oppressive weight on their shoulders.’
      • ‘Critics and audiences alike reviled it for its oppressive atmosphere and the direction in which it took the Alien franchise.’
      • ‘When Dan Parks dropped a goal for a 12-6 lead in the 57th minute, an already seething atmosphere became oppressive.’
      overwhelming, overpowering, hard to bear, unbearable, burdensome, unendurable, intolerable, heavy
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    2. 1.2(of weather) excessively hot and humid.
      • ‘One can easily imagine the oppressive heat being dispelled by a sudden smattering of rain, as an iron smoothes a wrinkled cloth.’
      • ‘The sun rose, becoming oppressive as we traveled through the chain of islands.’
      • ‘The course, as always, was immaculately presented and the weather was oppressive on the first day and overcast for the second round.’
      • ‘All the Tests lasted a full five days and were attended by a sizeable crowd despite stifling security, oppressive weather and poor facilities at the venues.’
      • ‘The occasional heavy downpour keeps the oppressive humidity at bay, and lessens the sense that we're walking through a steam room.’
      • ‘We had left the oppressive flat humidity of Lima at dawn, rising through the low cloud that seemed to hang permanently over the city, as if entering a second sky.’
      • ‘Many prisoners, suffocating under the oppressive heat, fainted.’
      • ‘The heat was beginning, to be oppressive, but as we got closer to the river, the fields became more and more verdant.’
      • ‘Freak hailstorms will victimize the prairies while oppressive heat waves cook southern Ontario.’
      • ‘Be prepared for more oppressive heat during the next two months as the dry weather will likely continue before entering the transition to the rainy season.’
      • ‘Fog, wet and oppressive, like gauze on a camera lens, softens edges off in the distance.’
      • ‘Summer's spiritual hardships are manifest through the oppressive summer heat.’
      • ‘It was stuffy and confined, muggy and stagnant, thick and oppressive.’
      • ‘The collecting itch urged Smith further and further afield, helped along by Houston's oppressive summer weather.’
      • ‘Dolly and I had a grand siesta right through the oppressive heat of the afternoon, waking to find the early evening cooler and more pleasant altogether.’
      • ‘Some people love hot weather, but I find it oppressive and stifling and generally unpleasant.’
      • ‘On a summer evening, a swab of jasmine or khus lifts your spirits in the oppressive heat of Northern India.’
      • ‘You want to come stay in Tel Aviv one of these days, now that's oppressive weather.’
      • ‘Beneath the hot and sticky oppressive atmosphere of the venue, Jon pushed his way past the bobbing bodies toward the bar.’
      • ‘The oppressive weather we've had this past week makes me want to sleep all day.’
      muggy, close, heavy, hot, humid, sticky, steamy, soupy, fuggy, airless, stuffy, stifling, suffocating, sultry, torrid
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Late 16th century: from medieval Latin oppressivus, from Latin oppress- pressed against from the verb opprimere (see oppress).