Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television
Oppress / Repress
This is another pairing where the meanings are similar. They are both verbs, actions concerned with restriction. They are both concerned with holding something down – a group of people, an emotion etc but as with a couple of others I have already discussed, this is about the source of the freedom being restricted.
Oppress – To keep an external agent down (doing it to someone else). The Civil Rights Movement in the USA came about because of oppression of blacks.
Repress – To hold back (doing it to yourself). Many victims of child abuse have repressed the memories of their experiences
Don’t confuse either word with
Which means to prevent something from happening or to put an end to something. So-called Super Injunctions are used to suppress the media from breaking stories.