chattel

noun
chat·​tel | \ ˈcha-tᵊl How to pronounce chattel (audio) \

Definition of chattel

1 : an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (such as buildings) connected with real property
2 : slave, bondman slaveholders who were determined to hold on to their human chattel

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Synonyms & Antonyms for chattel

Synonyms

Antonyms

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What is the Difference Between chattel and slave?

The word chattel is encountered in two main senses. The earlier of the two is primarily technical and refers to property, specifically property that is distinct from real estate holdings. The second meaning of chattel can excite considerable emotion, as it refers to humans as property, i.e., slaves. Chattel, slave and the less common bondman and thrall are all synonyms for a person held in servitude by another. Chattel and cattle both come to English from the same source: each is descended from the Medieval Latin word capitale, which itself traces to the Latin caput meaning “head.”

Examples of chattel in a Sentence

at one time, the children of black slaves were also considered chattel packed up all her chattels and moved to a new state
Recent Examples on the Web So once again, Harriet Tubman's life is an expression of so much that makes African-American descendants of chattel slavery a unique people with a unique lineage, culture & history. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "'Harriet' controversies didn't stop box office success," 4 Nov. 2019 The first founding was premised on chattel slavery. The Economist, "The promise and shortcomings of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments," 7 Oct. 2019 Instead, Twitty’s work demands that visitors look the specter of chattel slavery in the eye. San Francisco Chronicle, "Does a restaurant celebrating French colonialism belong in San Francisco?," 20 Sep. 2019 Bookmark the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which commemorates the 400th anniversary of the first time chattel slavery cast its shadow over what would later become the United States of America. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area pop-up restaurants worth seeking out," 19 Aug. 2019 However traditional slavery, in which humans are treated as chattels, and bequeath their status to their children, does still exist, even though all countries have abolished it. The Economist, "Everywhere in chains," 27 Aug. 2019 The rebellion collapsed by 1865, and with it the institution of chattel slavery. Kevin Waite, The New Republic, "California’s Forgotten Confederate History," 19 Aug. 2019 Their story marks an important historical transition, as the North American colonies began to turn away from indentured servitude and instead rely on chattel slavery. National Geographic, "400 years ago, enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia," 13 Aug. 2019 And why does all this matter over 150 years after the end of chattel slavery in the U.S.? Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "What are Reparations, How Could They Happen, and Why Do They Matter?," 8 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chattel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chattel

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chattel

Middle English chatel property, from Anglo-French — more at cattle

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Statistics for chattel

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for chattel

The first known use of chattel was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for chattel

chattel

noun
How to pronounce chattel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of chattel

old-fashioned : something (such as a slave, piece of furniture, tool, etc.) that a person owns other than land or buildings

chattel

noun
chat·​tel | \ ˈchat-ᵊl How to pronounce chattel (audio) \

Legal Definition of chattel

: an item of tangible or intangible personal property especially : chattel personal in this entry

Note: In some jurisdictions the term chattel is restricted to items of tangible and movable personal property. Other jurisdictions also classify intangible assets and property items as chattels.

chattel personal plural chattels personal
: an item of tangible movable personal property (as livestock or an automobile) that is not permanently connected with real estate
chattel real plural chattels real
: an interest (as a leasehold or profit a prendre) in an item of immovable property (as land or a building) that is less than a freehold estate — compare fixture

Note: Interests that are considered chattels real have been treated by the common law as personal property despite being interests in real property.

History and Etymology for chattel

Old French chatel goods, property, from Medieval Latin capitale, from neuter of capitalis chief, principal — see capital

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More from Merriam-Webster on chattel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chattel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chattel

Spanish Central: Translation of chattel

Nglish: Translation of chattel for Spanish Speakers

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