gu·​lag ˈgü-ˌläg How to pronounce gulag (audio)
often capitalized
: the penal system of the Soviet Union consisting of a network of labor camps

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web He’s detained by the authorities, tortured, and sent to a gulag. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 24 Jan. 2023 The people who have those markers, who are seen as unsafe for a long time were being shipped off to a gulag of re-education centers. CBS News, 4 Jan. 2023 The camps, known as penal colonies, are often former Soviet gulag prison camps and inmates are usually kept in crumbling, crowded barracks, sometimes with 50 to 60 sleeping in rows of bunks. Patrick Reevell, ABC News, 12 Nov. 2022 Reed had developed what was likely tuberculosis in the gulag, and as concern for his health mounted, President Joe Biden relented and approved the swap. Dallas News, 14 June 2022 They all were held in Mr. Etchecolatz’s gulag, prosecutors say, and six were never seen again by their families. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 5 July 2022 Or look at the man who, quite literally, wrote the book on the Soviet gulag. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 4 Oct. 2022 Bleak canvases by Ukrainian painter Nikolai Getman — who turned his Siberian gulag years into art — adorn the walls. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2022 Takahisa’s film, based on real events, tells the story of a Japanese prisoner of war played by who battles to keep hope alive for himself and his fellow inmates in a Siberian gulag after his nation’s defeat in 1945. Gavin Blair, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Russian, from Glavnoe upravlenie ispravitel'notrudovykh lagereĭ chief administration of corrective labor camps

First Known Use

1974, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gulag was in 1974

Dictionary Entries Near gulag

Cite this Entry

“Gulag.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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