Difference Between Suppression and Repression (With Table)

Just like in other languages, English also has a log of pairs or even groups of words that sound and look similar but should be used in different contexts due to their meaning. These words might be confusing, but it is considered to be more professional when we use the right terms in the right sentences.

Suppression vs Repression

The difference between Suppression and Repression is the spelling of the first syllable. Though these words sound and look similar, they have a slight difference and significance in their usage and meaning. It is a quality of a good writer and a professional person to use the right word in the right place.

The word suppression is a noun. It is a three-syllable word. It conveys the act of stopping or blocking something. It is obtained from the root verb ‘suppress. In the form of an adjective, it becomes, ‘suppressive. Example – The people tried to suppress the power of the leader who they gated.

The word repression is a noun. It is a three-syllable word. It conveys the meaning of being repressed. It has its origin from the root word repress which means to cause something to stop or to do something to retain the occurring of the event. Example – Repressing your ideas due to your fears is not good.

Comparison Table Between Suppression and Repression 

Parameters of Comparison
MeaningThe word suppression usually means to force something to be terminated or emphasize that something is to be blocked. The word repression means to retain or hold something back and stopping it from happening or occurring.
ApplicationThe word suppression is used while talking about something that stops or gets paused on its own.    The word repression is used when someone or something causes, forces, or eventually leads to the termination of sorting or when a person or thing holds back an event from occurring.
UsageSome places where it is used are while talking about blood, bleeding, and tactics.Some places where it is used in sociology and psychology.
The First Syllable‘sup ‘ is the first syllable.      ‘Rep’ is the first syllable.
Example They suppressed the blood flow from her wound.    His father represses his desires to make sure he gives a good life for him and his brother.

What is Suppression?

Suppression is known as a form of self-defence in a human’s brain. It is a phenomenon in which the brain voluntarily, intentionally, and deliberately stops and gets rids of unnecessary thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Other than for general purposes, these terms are specifically used to describe the human mind and the psychological responses of our brain.

It is a condition where the individual forcefully tries to get rid of unwanted feelings and thoughts. This helps our brain to get rid of negativity and undesired emotions, helping us to comfortable focus on our task without being carried away much by disturbing thoughts.

One good example is when a mother is annoyed by her child’s naughty and mischievous behaviour when all her friends are around, yet she suppresses her feelings so that she can prevent herself from feeling awkward and embarrassed around the guests. She decides to talk to her child and fix this later as she doesn’t want to scold or talk about that to her child at the moment.

What is Repression?

Repression is known as a form of self-defence in a human’s brain. It is a phenomenon in which the brain unconsciously stops and gets rids of unnecessary thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Medically it is termed disassociative amnesia since the thoughts and emotions are being unconsciously blocked. It is considered to be a mechanism that the brain comes up with helping us but might also be not favourable in certain cases.

One good example where it is extremely favourable is a king of amnesia a person experiences after an emotional trauma or shock. However, it may also include the loss of some significant part of the memory. It occurs subconsciously in the mind of a person.

This means the person is totally unaware of the past emotion and also has no idea this impulse exists in their minds. The mind subconsciously repressed since these may be identified to be devastating and harmful for that individual at that specific instant. The mind completely hides this from us, and hence we don’t even recognize what is going on inside, and thus it enables us to concentrate peacefully.

Main Differences Between Suppression and Repression 

  1. Suppression refers to stopping or blocking something on purpose, whereas repression means to retain or prevent something from happening.
  2. Suppression is done when it happens automatically or done when something is intentionally used to stop or block something. Repression is used when some unintentional; event causes something from not happening.
  3. It is used when talking about wounds and the flow of blood, while repression is used when talking about desires, ideas, and wishes.
  4. The first syllable of suppression is ‘sup’, and for repression, it is ‘rep’.
  5. Example for suppression – They suppressed the swelling with some ice cubes. Example for repression – I had to repress my desire to eat pizza since I am on a detox diet.


Though repression and suppression may seem the same, they emphasize and convey different meanings, and that is why it is significant to use the appropriate term in the right context. In this case, though interchanging these words won’t cause a major issue with the meaning however they make you sound unprofessional and of mediocre quality.

Who doesn’t want to sound better and professional, right? Always think twice and makes sure you use the appropriate word. Both the words being nouns can also be used in their verb and adjective forms. Though the difference in their meaning is slight, it still carries a large amount of significance.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/a0019416
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00332747.1949.11022736
Noun vs Verb video