ser·​vi·​tude | \ ˈsər-və-ˌtüd How to pronounce servitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Definition of servitude

1 : a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one's course of action or way of life
2 : a right by which something (such as a piece of land) owned by one person is subject to a specified use or enjoyment by another

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Synonyms & Antonyms for servitude



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Servitude is slavery or anything resembling it. The entire black population of colonial America lived in permanent servitude. And millions of the whites who populated this country arrived in "indentured servitude", obliged to pay off the cost of their journey with several years of labor. Servitude comes in many forms, of course: in the bad old days of the British navy, it was said that the difference between going to sea and going to jail was that you were less likely to drown in jail.

Examples of servitude in a Sentence

the Fugitive Slave Act had the effect of returning enslaved people who had made it to freedom in the North to a brutal life of servitude in the South
Recent Examples on the Web So the servitude argument is not quite so delusional. Peter J Reilly, Forbes, 5 June 2021 Before the United States was founded, Maryland not only banned unions between White and Black people, the colony ordered servitude for any woman engaged in such activity, as well as children born of such unions. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, 27 May 2021 But office life also forced millions to snap to a universal grid, a high-tech echo of the clerk’s dry servitude. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 26 Apr. 2021 Avoiding debt servitude requires not just bargaining with colleges but also understanding the arcane language of financial aid. Susan Paterno, Forbes, 27 Apr. 2021 Amendment’s ban on chattel enslavement to expressly prohibit involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime. Aaron Morrison, USA TODAY, 3 Dec. 2020 The advent of Instagram in recent years has helped create an international black market for migrant workers, in particular women recruited in Africa and Asia who are sold into servitude as maids in Persian Gulf countries. Washington Post, 5 May 2021 That man is Balram Halwai (played by astonishing newcomer Adarsh Gourav), a young man in contemporary India, born into servitude but capable of so much more. Mary Sollosi,, 20 Apr. 2021 In 1835 the Americans, dependent on slavery or indentured servitude, rose up in revolt under the leadership of Samuel Houston. David S. Reynolds, The New York Review of Books, 27 Apr. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for servitude

Middle English, from Anglo-French servitute, from Latin servitudo slavery, from servus slave

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Time Traveler for servitude

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The first known use of servitude was in the 15th century

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Statistics for servitude

Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Servitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for servitude



English Language Learners Definition of servitude

formal : the condition of being a slave or of having to obey another person


ser·​vi·​tude | \ ˈsər-və-ˌtüd How to pronounce servitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Kids Definition of servitude

: the condition of being a slave or of having to obey another


ser·​vi·​tude | \ ˈsər-və-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd How to pronounce servitude (audio) \

Legal Definition of servitude

1 : a condition in which an individual lacks liberty especially to determine his or her course of action or way of life specifically : the state of being a slave involuntary servitude
2 : a right by which property owned by one person is subject to a specified use or enjoyment of another used chiefly in the civil law of Louisiana — see also dominant estate and servient estate at estate sense 4 — compare easement
apparent servitude
: a predial servitude whose existence is perceivable by exterior signs or works (as an aqueduct or road) on the property
legal servitude
: a predial servitude that is created by a limitation under the law on the use of the property
natural servitude
: a predial servitude that arises from the situation of the estates (as from one being situated downhill from another)
personal servitude
: a servitude that burdens property in favor of a specific named person — see also right of use, usufruct
predial servitude
: a servitude that burdens one item of immovable property (as a tract of land) in favor of another

Note: A predial servitude is transferred along with the ownership of the dominant estate, and the servient estate is always taken subject to the servitude. A predial servitude cannot be transferred separately from the dominant estate.


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