apart·​heid | \ ə-ˈpär-ˌtāt, -ˌtīt \

Definition of apartheid

1 : racial segregation specifically : a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa
2 : separation, segregation cultural apartheid gender apartheid

Examples of apartheid in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

One grandfather was a longtime member of Parliament; a grandmother was the first female barrister in the country; and both of his parents, Sydney and Felicia, were leading anti-apartheid lawyers. Julie Belcove, WSJ, "William Kentridge Tackles the History of Apartheid and Colonialism in His Latest Production," 4 Dec. 2018 During his speech, Obama reflected on the impact Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist who served as South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999, had around the world, as well as his influence on him as a politician. Jewel Wicker, Teen Vogue, "Barack Obama Called Out Liars in a Speech Honoring Nelson Mandela in South Africa," 17 July 2018 Getty Images This morning, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are showing their support for the late South African leader and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "See Photos of Meghan and Harry at the Nelson Mandela Centenary Exhibition," 17 July 2018 Acosta explained that Noah lost his voice after his visit to South Africa this past weekend to take part in events to mark the centennial birth of former president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. Ocsar Wells Gabriel Ii, The Seattle Times, "‘Daily Show’ host Trevor Noah silenced by a voice issue," 5 Dec. 2018 Legacies of apartheid—the system of white-minority rule that ushered young black people toward unskilled jobs—are also contributing to the industry’s demise. Alexandra Wexler, WSJ, "South Africa Gold-Mining Companies Pay High Price to Keep Digging," 7 Oct. 2018 The couple met Mandela's granddaughter, Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, at the event, as well as the former leader's friends and anti-apartheid activists, Paul and Adelaide Joseph. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Is Back to Wearing Blush Pink at the Nelson Mandela Exhibit," 17 July 2018 An angry mob spotted the blond and blue-eyed Biehl, and saw her as a symbol of apartheid, South Africa’s institutionalized racial segregation that began in 1948 and ended in 1994. Makeda Easter, latimes.com, "An American scholar was killed in South Africa nearly 25 years ago. Today her legacy lives on through music," 4 July 2018 On one side was the old white town, with its neat suburban yards and stout brick Dutch Reformed church, where the streets were still named for an assortment of white conquerors and apartheid leaders. Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, "For South Africa's students, college means promise – if they can get there," 23 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of apartheid

1947, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apartheid

Afrikaans, from apart apart + -heid -hood

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about apartheid

Statistics for apartheid

Last Updated

30 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for apartheid

The first known use of apartheid was in 1947

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for apartheid



English Language Learners Definition of apartheid

: a former social system in South Africa in which black people and people from other racial groups did not have the same political and economic rights as white people and were forced to live separately from white people

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on apartheid

What made you want to look up apartheid? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!