apart·​heid | \ ə-ˈpär-ˌtāt How to pronounce apartheid (audio) , -ˌtīt How to pronounce apartheid (audio) \

Definition of apartheid

1 : racial segregation specifically : a former policy of segregation and political, social, and economic discrimination against the nonwhite majority in the Republic of South Africa

Note: The extreme racial segregation of apartheid lasted from 1948 to 1994 and included such restrictions as where people of certain races (see race entry 1 sense 1a) could live or own land, what jobs they could hold, and who could and couldn't participate in government.

2 : separation, segregation cultural apartheid gender apartheid

Examples of apartheid in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pumla Godobo-Madikizela Photo illustration by Bráulio Amado Twenty-five years ago, after the end of apartheid, South Africa established its Truth and Reconciliation Commission. David Marchesephoto Illustration By Bráulio Amado, New York Times, "What Can America Learn From South Africa About National Healing?," 11 Dec. 2020 The price of the South’s permanent and unconditional readmission into the Union as a bloc of racially apartheid states was the abandonment of these once-valuable Black citizens to ruthless terrorization. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "The Unacceptable Costs of Appeasing MAGA Nation," 21 Dec. 2020 Also, China’s system of ethnic apartheid and persecution doesn’t fit the identity politics prism that sees bigotry as a uniquely white problem. Jonah Goldberg, chicagotribune.com, "Column: A Cold War approach won’t work with China," 18 Dec. 2020 Food apartheid looks at the whole food system & takes into account income, race & geo. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Pressley: Black community more vulnerable to coronavirus due to 'comorbidities of structural racism'," 12 Dec. 2020 Just this year, de Klerk stated that apartheid was not a crime against humanity! David Marchesephoto Illustration By Bráulio Amado, New York Times, "What Can America Learn From South Africa About National Healing?," 11 Dec. 2020 In our discussion, slavery is the first phase of the atrocities that are relevant to the case for reparations, but that’s followed by nearly a century of legal apartheid in the United States, the Jim Crow period. Rodney Brooks, Washington Post, "A new book discusses not just why, but how the U.S. government should pay reparations to Black Americans," 11 Dec. 2020 Justice Stephen Breyer, who is Jewish, posed a hypothetical situation using apartheid in South Africa. Ron Kampeas, sun-sentinel.com, "Trump administration calling for Holocaust restitution cases outside U.S. meets with skepticism," 9 Dec. 2020 Levin grew up in South Africa and was disgusted by apartheid; Slaoui in Morocco, opposed to policies that trapped the vast majority of the populace in poverty. USA Today, "Deliver a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year? Impossible. Meet Moncef Slaoui.," 1 Dec. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of apartheid

1947, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apartheid

Afrikaans, from apart apart + -heid -hood

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Time Traveler for apartheid

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The first known use of apartheid was in 1947

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apartheid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apartheid. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce apartheid (audio) How to pronounce apartheid (audio)

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

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