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.
updated on September 04, 2019