ab·​o·​li·​tion·​ist | \ ˌa-bə-ˈli-shə-nist How to pronounce abolitionist (audio) \
plural abolitionists

Definition of abolitionist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who wants to stop or abolish slavery : an advocate of abolition Before going to England I had had no proper conception of the deep interest displayed by the abolitionists of England in the cause of freedom, nor did I realize the amount of substantial help given by them.— Booker T. Washington On the spectrum of abhorrent business practices, buying and selling humans, especially children, remains the gold standard. Yet modern abolitionists say it happens all the time.— Belinda Luscombe While with him at an antislavery convention in London, which shocked her by barring women as delegates, she found her ideal model in another delegate, Lucretia Mott, the noted Quaker abolitionist and feminist.— Milton Rugoff



Definition of abolitionist (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or supporting abolitionists or abolitionism : advocating the end of slavery abolitionist writings … the virulence of public reaction to antislavery activity in the East appears to have been a reason for the deployment of abolitionist resources and energies into the Middle West.— Marilynne Robinson … he was genuinely concerned with the poor, and an aggressive supporter of abolitionist causes and women's education.— Jesse Sheidlower

Examples of abolitionist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And the tombstone of William Lloyd Garrison, the famous abolitionist, suffragist, and journalist, is a modest stone. BostonGlobe.com, 11 Aug. 2021 Then someone came and planted, guerrilla-style, an abolitionist rose. Los Angeles Times, 27 Sep. 2021 Heg, a Norwegian immigrant who became an outspoken abolitionist, served in the 15th Wisconsin Regiment during the Civil War. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 23 Sep. 2021 But growing prison abolitionist activism has made decarceration a viable solution now for the deepening crisis at Rikers. Esther Wang, The New Republic, 16 Sep. 2021 Members of Congress have joined forces with one of the descendants of Frederick Douglass to introduce anti-human trafficking legislation named after the renowned abolitionist. Essence, 7 Sep. 2021 Since the pandemic began, like many other 30-something Brooklynites, Badgley has left the city — moving first to L.A. and then upstate — and started to acquaint himself with prison-abolitionist thinking. Jackson Mchenry, Vulture, 30 Aug. 2021 Frederick Douglass, the leading Black abolitionist of the 19th century, drew tremendous inspiration from Haiti, eventually serving as the US ambassador to Haiti under President Benjamin Harrison. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 20 Aug. 2021 There’s also a special meaning behind the name on the bottle, an eponymous tribute to Olaudah Equiano, an 18th-century writer and abolitionist who, according to historical accounts, also sold rum and used the profits to buy his own freedom. Alyssa Newcomb, Fortune, 19 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For Purnell, the aim is to not only end the carceral state – to use abolitionist language – but to permanently transform the current punitive legal and justice framework of the United States. Kovie Biakolo, Essence, 5 Oct. 2021 Sisters Uncut is an abolitionist direct action group protesting cuts to domestic violence services. Sisters Uncut, refinery29.com, 1 Oct. 2021 Wesley Norris was born on Custis' plantation and told in an abolitionist newspaper of running away with his cousin and sister after learning Lee intended to keep them enslaved for five more years. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, 12 Sep. 2021 Garrison’s renown did make him, until his death in 1879, the personal embodiment of the abolitionist movement. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, 14 May 2020 The history of Luiz Gama, the most important abolitionist leader in Brazil. Angelique Jackson, Variety, 26 Aug. 2021 Beyond photographs, the collection also includes objects related to the abolitionist movement that highlight the role of women involved with the Underground Railroad. CNN, 20 Aug. 2021 One of the most compelling examples of the use of free speech on behalf of the greater good is that of Frederick Douglass, an ex-slave whose writings and oratory helped inspire the abolitionist movement. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, 12 Aug. 2021 Johnson gave Biden a framed photograph of a mural of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Natasha Bertrand, CNN, 11 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abolitionist.' 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 abolitionist


1791, in the meaning defined above


1833, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of abolitionist was in 1791

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Abolitionist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abolitionist. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for abolitionist



English Language Learners Definition of abolitionist

: a person who wants to stop or abolish slavery


ab·​o·​li·​tion·​ist | \ ˌa-bə-ˈli-shə-nist \

Kids Definition of abolitionist

: a person favoring the abolition of slavery

More from Merriam-Webster on abolitionist

Nglish: Translation of abolitionist for Spanish Speakers


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