a. The action of oppressing; arbitrary and cruel exercise of power: a system of oppression.
b. The state of being oppressed: caught in the oppression of poverty.
2. A feeling of being weighed down in mind or body: "Every time I entered my house, an oppression settled on me so heavy that I had to stand for minutes at a time in the doorway, gathering what strength I could find" (Erin McGraw). "One has ... to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression" (J.R.R. Tolkien).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.