To hold back or restrain; to suppress or subdue; to prevent the expression or action of a feeling, thought, or desire.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Suppress, restrain, inhibit, stifle, check, control, subdue, bottle up, keep in check, hold in, smother, constrain, muzzle, choke back, withhold.


Express, release, vent, liberate, free, allow, indulge, let go.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun repression, repressions
Verb repress, represses, repressed, repressing
Adjective repressive
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • She tried to repress her anger but couldn’t help yelling at him.

  • The government attempted to repress the opposition by arresting their leaders and shutting down their newspapers.

  • He had to constantly repress his emotions while working as a detective.

  • Sarah felt the need to repress her feelings of love for her best friend, as she knew he was not interested in her romantically.


The word “repress” comes from the Latin word “reprimere,” which means “to press back.” It implies the act of pushing something down or holding something back. When we repress something, we hold it in, and this can be either a conscious or unconscious act.

Repression is often used to describe the psychological mechanism in which an individual unconsciously prevents themselves from thinking or feeling something that is perceived as threatening. This can lead to a buildup of tension or stress, which can have negative effects on mental health. For example, someone who has experienced trauma may repress memories or emotions related to the event as a way of coping with the overwhelming feelings associated with it.

In everyday language, “repress” is commonly used to describe the act of suppressing a feeling or thought, such as anger or frustration. It can also refer to the act of controlling oneself in a situation where it may be inappropriate to express certain emotions or behaviors, such as in a professional setting.

The word “repress” can also be used in a more literal sense to describe the act of preventing the expression of something physical, such as a cough or a sneeze. In this context, it is often used in medical or scientific contexts.

The prefix “re-” in “repress” indicates a repetition or reversal of the action. It can also indicate a return to a previous state, as in “revert” or “renew.”