man·​u·​mit ˌman-yə-ˈmit How to pronounce manumit (audio)
manumitted; manumitting

transitive verb

: to release from slavery

Did you know?

To set someone free from captivity is in effect to release that person from the hand, or control, of the captor. You can use this analogy to remember that manumit derives ultimately from the Latin noun manus, meaning "hand," and the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to let go" or "send." The two roots joined hands in Latin to form the verb manumittere (meaning "to free from slavery"), which in turn passed into Anglo-French as manumettre and eventually into Middle English as manumitten. Manus has handed down other words to English as well. One of them is emancipate, which is both a relative and synonym of manumit.

Choose the Right Synonym for manumit

free, release, liberate, emancipate, manumit mean to set loose from restraint or constraint.

free implies a usually permanent removal from whatever binds, confines, entangles, or oppresses.

freed the animals from their cages

release suggests a setting loose from confinement, restraint, or a state of pressure or tension, often without implication of permanent liberation.

released his anger on a punching bag

liberate stresses particularly the resulting state of liberty.

liberated their country from the tyrant

emancipate implies the liberation of a person from subjection or domination.

labor-saving devices emancipated us from household drudgery

manumit implies emancipation from slavery.

the document manumitted the slaves

Example Sentences

though he was an outspoken defender of liberty, this son of Virginia did not manumit his own slaves until he was on his deathbed
Recent Examples on the Web No evidence exists to suggest Kirby Smith did manumit him. Cynthia Greenlee, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Jan. 2023 Some states, like the state of Georgia, passed expulsion laws that required blacks who were manumitted to leave the state within a year of their emancipation. Tera W. Hunter, The Root, 15 May 2018

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

Word History


Middle English manumitten, from Anglo-French manumettre, from Latin manumittere, from manus hand + mittere to let go, send

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of manumit was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near manumit

Cite this Entry

“Manumit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


man·​u·​mit ˌman-yə-ˈmit How to pronounce manumit (audio)
manumitted; manumitting
: to set free
especially : to release from slavery
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