Whether you're repressing a feeling, an idea or even a revolution, you're almost always going to be taking advantage of the press in repress. To repress something is to "press it down" where it can't be seen, heard or even recognized.

Psychologists often try to help people recover memories that they've repressed so that they can feel free of them once and for all. What makes repress different from press is that repress is almost always used when you're talking about an idea, concept or something intangible. In other words, you repress, say, your emotions. You don't repress olives to get olive oil. However, you can repress someone or some group by intimidating them — like repressing the protesters by sending out cops on horseback.

Definitions of repress
  1. verb
    conceal or hide
    synonyms: muffle, smother, stifle, strangle
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    type of:
    conquer, curb, inhibit, stamp down, subdue, suppress
    to put down by force or authority
  2. verb
    put out of one's consciousness
    synonyms: suppress
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    keep from expressing
    type of:
    bury, forget
    dismiss from the mind; stop remembering
  3. verb
    put down by force or intimidation
    synonyms: keep down, quash, reduce, subdue, subjugate
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    type of:
    crush, oppress, suppress
    come down on or keep down by unjust use of one's authority
  4. verb
    block the action of
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    type of:
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
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