"push against," early 14c., "to clasp, embrace;" mid-14c. "to squeeze out;" also "to cluster, gather in a crowd;" late 14c., "to press against, exert pressure," also "assault, assail;" also "forge ahead, push one's way, move forward," from Old French presser "squeeze, press upon; torture" (13c.), from Latin pressare "to press," frequentative formation from pressus, past participle of premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress," from PIE root *per- (4) "to strike." Related: Pressed; pressing. Figurative sense is from late 14c. Meaning "to urge, argue for" is from 1590s.
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