I was translating some literature written in the 20th century, and I came across the following sentence

  1. We suppress these partitions

and by Google translate, the "suppress" means “make obscure”. However for the sentence below,

  1. We suppress every term with a negative exponent

the translator treated "suppress" as "delete/discard/abandon" etc. This is confusing, since the definitions given by the Merriam-Webster dictionary do not contain these meaning:

Full Definition

transitive verb

  1. to put down by authority or force: subdue

  2. to keep from public knowledge: such as

a : to keep secret

b : to stop or prohibit the publication or revelation of

  1. a : to exclude from consciousness

b : to keep from giving vent to : check

  1. obsolete : to press down

  2. a : to restrain from a usual course or action

b : to inhibit the growth or development of

  1. to inhibit the genetic expression of

I spent sometime to dig in: I noticed that the origin of this word


Middle English, from Latin suppressus, past participle of supprimere, from sub- + premere to press — more at press.

First known use: 14th century

which also comes from the M-W dictionary. I tried to let Google translate the word supprimere, and accidentally it gave a French word supprimés, which means "deleted".

So what happened? Could it be that the meaning of "delete" was still there early in the 20th century, but as the time went this definition became obsolete and even disappeared, so that the modern dictionaries do not contain it anymore? I think this is interesting, so hope someone could unravel this for me, thanks in advance.

P.S. this question might not fit in this site and the tags might not be appropriate, so feel free to edit and improve this post. Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Don't rely on Google Translate for accurate up-to-date definitions. I suspect your examples just represent a poor original word choice (where obfuscate seems more like le mot juste). Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 17:28
  • Can you provide a little more context on the text? Is it something mathematical?
    – urnonav
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 18:42
  • Sentence #2 is obviously mathematical, but the subject matter of #1 is not obvious; context would help. Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


and by Google translate...
"The translator treated "suppress" as "delete/discard/abandon" etc. This is confusing.

Google Translate shouldn't be relied upon for definitive results. It's notoriously faulty, although improving year by year.

dictionary.com includes this definition of suppress:

"4. to withhold from disclosure or publication (truth, evidence, a book, names, etc.)"

In the context of your example sentence, it's pretty clear this means to not print or show the value.

Perhaps the choices of "remove/delete/discard/withhold" are a little more expected. But "suppress" doesn't seem absolutely wrong.

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