lao·​gai ˈlau̇-ˈgī How to pronounce laogai (audio)
plural laogai
: the penal system of China consisting of a network of labor camps
also : such a labor camp

Examples of laogai in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That diluted Western opposition to the party’s retention of an iron grip on political power or the existence of the laogai — gulag — to which political and religious dissidents were sent. Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, 23 July 2019 Instead, there is torture, a sham trial, and a gulag (called laogai). Nr Editors, National Review, 20 June 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'laogai.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Chinese (Beijing) láogǎi reform through labor, short for láodòng gǎizào, from láodòng work, labor + gǎizào transform, reform

First Known Use

1983, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of laogai was in 1983

Dictionary Entries Near laogai

Cite this Entry

“Laogai.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

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