I would like to know if it is correct to use the word "impressed" in this way by saying that someone is impressed upon by daily pressure? Not in the sense of to be convinced but to be negatively impacted or affected. I was trying to be more explicit in emphasizing a greater degree of being affected. Or perhaps beleaguered or beset would have been better?

I tried to verify this by looking at the dictionary and it is defined tr.v. 1. To affect strongly, often favorably 2. To produce or attempt to produce a vivid impression or image of: a scene that impressed itself on her memory 3. To mark or stamp with pressure: impressed the wax with a design. 4. To apply with pressure; press: impressed the stamp onto the wax.

I am not sure.

  • No, such use of impressed is not idiomatic (it's usually used in a positive sense, to mean [caused to] have a favourable impression of). What you're trying to say would be expressed by, for example, weighed down by daily pressure (or perhaps oppressed). Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:48
  • 1
    Seeing the definition impress: affect strongly in a dictionary may create the impression (oops) that it is acceptable to use 'impress' interchangeably with 'affect strongly'. This is far from the truth. 'His callousness affected me strongly' works, but hardly 'his callousness impressed me'. 'The strong wind strongly affected the boat's steering' but not 'the strong wind impressed the boat's steering'. Dictionary definitions are just a start in deciding acceptability. And in your case, the answer is that 'impressed upon' is unacceptable. Oh, and hello, Gaia :) Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:51
  • Agree with both remarks, and I would add here that the minimal semantic trait of impress is to make a mark on. Generally, then, stress does not "make a mark" on the psyche. It is either present or not as a sort of totality. A person can be impressed by a quality another person or thing has but like a physical mark, it affects some part of the person not the totality of the psyche like stress. So, /his precision impresses me/ [makes it "mark" on my mind] but it is not taking over my mind as a total state of being. Other verbs: overcome by stress, for example.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 16:12
  • @FumbleFingers How about: The seriousness of the situation in which the surviving passengers found themselves, slowly impressed itself upon them? That sounds idiomatic enough to me.
    – WS2
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 17:54
  • @WS2: That sounds fine to me too. But without the guidance of reflexive itself plus upon, you must admit The seriousness of the situation slowly impressed the surviving passengers would be rather "unusual" phrasing (and would probably be taken to mean something rather different). Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


The answer is yes, it can be used in just that way. It is sense 3 of the v1 use of impress in the OED. It is a figurative use of the physical sense of making an impression, and not the same as mentally acquiring a favourable view of something

  1. fig. To imprint (an idea, etc.) on (†in, to) the mind; to cause to take firm mental hold; to enforce, urge (a rule of conduct, etc.) on another.

c1374 Chaucer Troilus & Criseyde ii. 1322 (1371) Yn good herte it mot som rouþe impresse, To here and se þe giltless in distresse.

c1400 Mandeville's Trav. (1839) xxix. 295 Thou scholdest thenke and impresse it in thi mynde, that nothing is inmortalle.

▸?a1513 W. Dunbar Poems (1998) 121 Sadlye in thy hart inpres Quod tu in cinerem reuerteris.

1590 Spenser Faerie Queene ii. xi. sig. Y7v, So fowle and vgly, that exceeding feare Their visages imprest, when they approached neare.

1590 Spenser Faerie Queene iii. iv. sig. Ff6v, So deepe the deadly feare of that foule swaine Was earst impressed in her gentle spright.

1649 J. Ellistone tr. J. Böhme Epist. i. xxxix. 9 That a man impresseth (or imagineth in his minde) to himselfe, that Christ is dead for his sinnes.

a1711 T. Ken Divine Love in Wks. (1838) 238 Impress on my heart so tender a sense of thy sufferings.

1776 Gibbon Decline & Fall I. xi. 297 A few such examples impressed a salutary consternation.

1839 Dickens Nicholas Nickleby x. 90, I am sure you will impress upon your children the necessity of attaching themselves to it early in life.

1863 ‘G. Eliot’ Romola II. i. 6 This man had a power..of impressing his beliefs on others.


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