Posted by: janecronin | May 19, 2019


“Suprimir” has a direct equivalent in the English language, which is the verb “to suppress” and, as often happens with words of a Latin origin, we can use our knowledge of English to deduce the meaning in Spanish.  Again as often happens, “suprimir” not only means to “suppress” but also has a more everyday meaning.  If you happen to have a Spanish keyboard on your computer you will have noticed (and if you haven´t, have a look now) that there is a key marked “supr”, which stands for “suprimir” and therefore means “delete”.  I have chosen this verb to talk about, not so much for its meaning or grammar, both of which are straightforward, but mainly because it has the same root as a whole range of other verbs, all of which are useful in their own way.  Actually, I have found six more related verbs, but am open to suggestion if there are more.  These are: “oprimir”, “imprimir”, “reprimir”, “deprimir”, “exprimir” and “comprimir”.

In the same way as “suprimir”, “oprimir” has a predictable translation in English, namely “to oppress”.  The noun from this verb is also very common “opresión”.  Notice that in English this word doubles two letters – oppression.  In Spanish, we don´t double letters unless we have a good reason to do so.  A good reason is when we actually pronounce the letter twice, or give it a stronger value as with the double “rr”.

Using the same logic as in the previous two examples, we would expect “imprimir” to mean “to impress”, but in fact it means “to print”.  Obviously these ideas are closely related, but in modern Spanish, “to impress” in the psychological sense (e.g. “His CV impressed us”) is “impresionar” and  something that is “impressive” is “impresionante”.  However, returning to “imprimir” we have the related noun “impresora” which means “printer” and a printed document or form is sometimes called “un impreso” which could also be translated as “print-out”.

“Reprimir” is to “repress” and the adjective “represivo” and the noun “represión” speaks for themselves.   We sometimes use this group of words in a political context – “una dictadura represiva” (a repressive dictatorship).  You may well have never associated these ideas with “deprimir” (to depress) but it also has the same root meaning of crushing or pressing something down.  In the case of “depresión” we usually refer to a mental state, although we can also talk about “una depresión” as a dip or hollow in a landscape.  There are three adjectives from “deprimir” namely “depresivo” (depressive); “deprimente” (depressing) and “deprimido” (depressed).

“Exprimir” means to “squeeze out” such as juice from a lemon.   Interesting though there are other words which must have been related originally, such as “expresar” (to express).  “Expresión” therefore means the same as “expression” in English, and has nothing to do with squeezing oranges.  Finally, “comprimir” (to compress).  The context in which I have seen this most often is in tablets from the chemist which are called “comprimidos” and are made of compressed powder.

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