ab·o·li·tion·ist | \ˌa-bə-ˈli-shᵊn-ist \
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

The bride is a descendant of Governor William Bradford and of John Alden, both of Plymouth Colony, and of the Rev. Richard Salter Storrs, a 19th-century Congregational minister and abolitionist in Brooklyn Heights. New York Times, "Vita Emery, Matthew Beaton," 1 July 2018 Since the 1740s, rabble-rousers — rebellious colonists, abolitionists and suffragists among them — have met in the building’s Great Hall. New York Times, "Boston Grapples With Faneuil Hall, Named for a Slaveholder," 6 June 2018 Generations of local families are buried there, too, alongside notable abolitionists and more than 400 veterans from the Civil War to the Korean War. Katie Park, Philly.com, "Amid weeds and toppled tombstones, historic Montgomery County cemetery struggles to rebuild," 11 June 2018 Sherman, who despised Jews, abolitionists, Mexicans, Indians and journalists, reserved particular distaste for blacks. Harold Holzer, WSJ, "Burning Down the South," 7 June 2018 To her, an ardent abolitionist and daughter of a world-famous preacher, slavery was a religious and emotional challenge. Jared Brock, Smithsonian, "The Story of Josiah Henson, the Real Inspiration for ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’," 16 May 2018 The home is known primarily for two of its past owners: Henry Calvert Lambert, an ardent abolitionist and retired Unitarian minister from East Cambridge; and Frederick E. Jones, a Boston leather merchant. John Hilliard, BostonGlobe.com, "In Newton, this multimillion dollar home could be worth more as a knockdown," 10 May 2018 Tubman waged her battle against slavery as an Underground Railroad agent and abolitionist, as well as a Civil War spy and nurse. Kate Clifford Larson, Vox, "Kanye West’s Harriet Tubman tweets show how little we know about her history," 4 May 2018 The speech also touched on the life stories of his own family and social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Teo Armus, Washington Post, "In race for Md. governor, Jealous emphasizes unity among black Democrats," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Even Horace Greeley, the abolitionist editor of the New York Daily Tribune, now called for reconciliation and put up $25,000 of his own money for Davis’s bail. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, "‘The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee’ Review: The Cost of Conciliation," 12 July 2018 Grimmette will perform Saturday at the Crofton Community Library as the Marylander who rose up from slavery to become an abolitionist leader and famous speaker. Janene Holzberg, baltimoresun.com, "For Gambrills resident Bill Grimmette, portrayal of Frederick Douglass pays homage to a pioneer of justice," 13 July 2018 At the time, the nascent women’s movement was firmly integrated with the abolitionist movement: The leaders were all abolitionists, and Frederick Douglass spoke at the Seneca Falls Convention, arguing for women’s suffrage. Constance Grady, Vox, "The waves of feminism, and why people keep fighting over them, explained," 1 June 2018 At the Annenberg, a copy of the earliest photograph of Abraham Lincoln now hangs beside a young Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist and former slave. Steve Appleford, latimes.com, "From 14 million photos in the Library of Congress, she chose 440 to tell the story of America," 18 May 2018 Julia Ward Howe, a well-to-do Northern abolitionist and poet, heard the tune that autumn while observing Union troops in Virginia. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "Recognize That Tune? It’s the Northern Accent of Georgia Football," 8 Jan. 2018 Quilts have been made for the abolitionist, temperance and environmental movements and, more recently, in response to gun violence. Mark Pratt, latimes.com, "Migrant Quilt Project brings border tragedies to the surface, stitch by stitch," 7 May 2018 Religion played a large role in both Tubman's life and the abolitionist movement as a whole. Henry J. Morgan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Colgate 'Underground Railroad' production is part play, part escape room, part golf course," 6 July 2018 There were dozens of versions of the lyrics, including a powerful parody by an abolitionist writer. Joss Fong, Vox, "A debate on the merits of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”," 4 July 2018

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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6 Oct 2018

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The first known use of abolitionist was in 1791

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More Definitions for abolitionist


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

Kids Definition of abolitionist

: a person favoring the abolition of slavery

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