Etymology
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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.

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extortionate (adj.)

"characterized by extortion, oppressive, excessive," 1711, from extortion + -ate. Extortious is from c. 1600.

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grinding (adj.)

Old English, present-participle adjective from grind (v.). Meaning "oppressive, burdensome" is from 1580s. The verbal noun is from mid-14c.

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dead-weight (n.)

also deadweight, 1650s, "weight of an inert body," from dead (adj.) + weight (n.). Hence, "a heavy or oppressive burden" (1721).

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leaden (adj.)

"made of lead," Old English leaden, from lead (n.1) + -en (2). The figurative sense of "heavy, oppressive, dull" is attested by 1570s. Related: Leadenly; leadenness.

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onerous (adj.)

"burdensome, troublesome," late 14c., from Old French onereus, honereus (14c., Modern French onéreux) and directly from Latin onerosus "burdensome, heavy, oppressive," from onus (genitive oneris) "a burden" (see onus). Related: Onerously; onerousness.

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grave (adj.)

1540s, "influential, respected; marked by weighty dignity," from French grave (Old French greve "terrible, dreadful," 14c.), from Latin gravis, "heavy, ponderous, burdensome, loaded; pregnant;" of matters, "weighty, important;" of sounds, "deep, low, bass;" figuratively "oppressive, hard to bear, troublesome, grievous," from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy."

In English, the sense "solemn, sober" is from 1580s; of immaterial things, "important, serious" 1590s. Greek barys (opposed to kouphos) also was used figuratively, of suffering, sorrow, sobbing, and could mean "oppressive, burdensome, grave, dignified, impressive." The noun meaning "accent mark over a vowel" is c. 1600, from French.

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rebel (v.)

late 14c., rebellen, "rise up against (a ruler, one's government, etc.); be insubordinate," from Old French rebeller (14c.) and directly from Latin rebellare "to revolt" (see rebel (adj.)). In general, "make war against anything deemed oppressive" from late 14c. Related: Rebelled; rebelling.

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Star Chamber (n.)

late 14c., apartment in the royal palace at Westminster in which members of the king's council sat to exercise jurisdiction 14-15c., it evolved 15c. into a court of criminal jurisdiction, infamous under James I and Charles I for arbitrary and oppressive proceedings. Abolished 1641. Supposedly so called because gilt stars had been painted on the ceiling. Later there was a star on the door.

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clamp-down (n.)

also clampdown, 1940 in the figurative sense "a firm, oppressive or harsh suppression or preventive action," from verbal phrase clamp down "use pressure to keep down" (1924). The verbal phrase in the figurative sense is recorded from 1941. See clamp (v.) + down (adv.).

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