What are the meanings of 'oppress', 'repress' and 'suppress'?

Does it matter between Help Help! I'm being oppressed! and Help! Help! I'm being repressed!?

2 Answers 2


You can yourself repress or suppress the urge to post here.
The government can oppress you - I feel oppress is more political, although an oppressive government can suppress your urges to rebel


a. trans. To overcome, put down, or subdue; to suppress; to check or put an end to; (spec.) to overwhelm (a person) in a fight or battle. Obs.


  1. trans. To put down by force or authority.
    a. To cause (a proceeding, an activity) to cease, e.g. to quell (a rebellion); to put a stop to the use or employment of.


  1. trans.
    a. To put down by force, suppress (an enemy, lawbreaker, troublemaker, etc.); to reduce to subjection, subdue.
  • Any comment to make the downvote useful?
    – mplungjan
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 15:46

Not my original answer but I think the article here explains it quite well.

To quote -

To oppress means to keep (someone) down by unjust force or authority. To repress is (1) to hold back, or (2) to put down by force. Suppress, which is broader and more common than the other two, means (1) to put an end to, (2) to inhibit, and (3) to keep from being revealed.

There is some crossover between these verbs—and suppress often covers all three words’ uses—but oppress usually applies to the mistreatment of a person or group by a more powerful one, repress usually applies to emotions or urges or refers to the violent quelling of political movements, and suppress usually applies to information.

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