Etymology
Advertisement
oppress (v.)

late 14c., oppressen, "to press unduly upon or against, overburden, weigh down," also figuratively, "overwhelm overpower" (of sickness, grief, etc.); also "burden with cruel, unjust, or unreasonable restraints, treat with injustice or undue severity, keep down by an unjust exercise of power," from Old French opresser "oppress, afflict; torment, smother" (13c.), from Medieval Latin oppressare, frequentative of Latin opprimere "press against, press together, press down;" figuratively "crush, put down, subdue, prosecute relentlessly" (in Late Latin "to rape"), from assimilated form of ob "against" (see ob-) + premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress" (from PIE root *per- (4) "to strike"). In Middle English also "to rape." Related: Oppressed; oppressing.

It is the due [external] restraint and not the moderation of rulers that constitutes a state of liberty; as the power to oppress, though never exercised, does a state of slavery. [St. George Tucker, "View of the Constitution of the United States," 1803]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
oppressive (adj.)

1640s, "unreasonably or unjustly burdensome," from Medieval Latin oppressivus, from oppress-, past participle stem of opprimere "press against, press together, press down;" figuratively "crush, put down, subdue, prosecute relentlessly" (see oppress). Sense of "inclined to oppress, tyrannical" is from 1712; that of "heavy, overwhelming" (of grief, woe, heat, etc.) is by 1712. Related: Oppressively; oppressiveness.

Related entries & more 
oppressor (n.)

"one who exercises undue severity in the use of power or authority," c. 1400, oppressour, from Old French opresseor, from Latin oppressor "a crusher, a destroyer," from opprimere (see oppress (v.)). In Middle English also "a criminal; a rapist" (mid-15c.).

Related entries & more 
oppressed (adj.)

"weighted or pressed down," physically or mentally, late 14c., past-participle adjective from oppress.

Ovirredyn with a carte-wheel, The chyld oppressyd lay in the streete deed. [John Lydgate "Lives of Ss. Edmund & Fremund and the Extra Miracles of St. Edmund," mid-15c.] 
Related entries & more 
*per- (4)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to strike," an extended sense from root *per- (1) "forward, through."

It forms all or part of: compress; depress; espresso; express; impress (v.1) "have a strong effect on the mind or heart;" imprimatur; imprint; oppress; oppression; pregnant (adj.2) "convincing, weighty, pithy;" press (v.1) "push against;" pressure; print; repress; reprimand; suppress.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
grieve (v.)

c. 1200, transitive, "to make worried or depressed; to make angry, enrage;" also "to be physically painful, cause discomfort;" c. 1300 as "cause grief to, disappoint, be a cause of sorrow;" also "injure, harass, oppress," from tonic stem of Old French grever "afflict, burden, oppress," from Latin gravare "make heavy; cause grief," from gravis "weighty" (from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy"). Intransitive sense of "be sorry, lament" is from c. 1400. Related: Grieved; grieving.

Related entries & more 
overset (n.)

"an overturn, ruin," mid-15c., from over- + set (v.). The verb, "to turn over, cause to capsize," is from 1590s; earlier it meant "to oppress" (c. 1200), "to overpower" (late 14c.). Related: Overset; oversetting.

Related entries & more 
crowd (v.)

Old English crudan "to press, crush." Cognate with Middle Dutch cruden, Dutch kruijen "to press, push," Middle High German kroten "to press, oppress," Norwegian kryda "to crowd." Related: Crowded; crowding.

Related entries & more 
exonerate (v.)

1520s, "to unload, disburden," a literal sense now obsolete; 1570s as "relieve (of a charge, blame, etc.) resting on one; clear of something that lies upon the character as an imputation," from Latin exoneratus, past participle of exonerare "remove a burden, discharge, unload," from ex "out, out of, off" (see ex-) + onerare "to unload; overload, oppress," from onus (genitive oneris) "burden" (see onus). Related: Exonerated; exonerating.

Related entries & more 
cow (v.)

"intimidate, daunt the fear or courage of," c. 1600, probably [OED] from Old Norse kuga "oppress," which is of unknown origin but perhaps has something to do with the Scandinavian forms of cow (n.) on the notion of "easily herded." Related: Cowed; cowing.

Related entries & more