peonage

noun
pe·​on·​age | \ ˈpē-ə-nij How to pronounce peonage (audio) \

Definition of peonage

1a : the use of laborers bound in servitude because of debt
b : a system of convict labor by which convicts are leased to contractors
2 : the condition of a peon

Examples of peonage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Her empathetic portraits of African-American field hands shine a light on a system of peonage that predated and outlasted the 1930s. New York Times, "18 Art Exhibitions (and 1 Architectural Wonder) in N.Y.C. Right Now," 12 Mar. 2020 Her empathetic portraits of African-American field hands shine a light on a system of peonage that predated and outlasted the 1930s. New York Times, "18 Art Exhibitions (and 1 Architectural Wonder) in N.Y.C. Right Now," 12 Mar. 2020 Her empathetic portraits of African-American field hands shine a light on a system of peonage that predated and outlasted the 1930s. New York Times, "18 Art Exhibitions (and 1 Architectural Wonder) in N.Y.C. Right Now," 12 Mar. 2020 Her empathetic portraits of African-American field hands shine a light on a system of peonage that predated and outlasted the 1930s. New York Times, "18 Art Exhibitions (and 1 Architectural Wonder) in N.Y.C. Right Now," 12 Mar. 2020 Her empathetic portraits of African-American field hands shine a light on a system of peonage that predated and outlasted the 1930s. New York Times, "18 Art Exhibitions (and 1 Architectural Wonder) in N.Y.C. Right Now," 12 Mar. 2020 Her empathetic portraits of African-American field hands shine a light on a system of peonage that predated and outlasted the 1930s. New York Times, "18 Art Exhibitions (and 1 Architectural Wonder) in N.Y.C. Right Now," 12 Mar. 2020 Another reader learned how her white ancestor upheld the peonage system in early 20th century Georgia. Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, "Re-telling black history: 3 women on navigating personal encounters with racism," 21 Feb. 2020 Her empathetic portraits of African-American field hands shine a light on a system of peonage that predated and outlasted the 1930s. Arthur Lubow, New York Times, "Empathy and Artistry: Rediscovering Dorothea Lange," 13 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'peonage.' 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 peonage

1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for peonage

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The first known use of peonage was in 1844

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Statistics for peonage

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Peonage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peonage. Accessed 6 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for peonage

peonage

noun
pe·​on·​age | \ ˈpē-ə-nij How to pronounce peonage (audio) \

Legal Definition of peonage

: labor in a condition of servitude to extinguish a debt the holding of any person to service or labor under the system known as peonage is abolished and forever prohibitedU.S. Code

More from Merriam-Webster on peonage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for peonage

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about peonage

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