servitude

noun
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

Synonyms

bondage, enslavement, servility, slavery, thrall, thralldom (or thraldom), yoke

Antonyms

freedom, liberty

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Did You Know?

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 slaves who had made it to freedom in the North to a brutal life of servitude in the South

Recent Examples on the Web

Seeking safe harbor, many instead end up incarcerated, hospitalized, ransomed, stranded, or sold into servitude. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 Income share agreements have long been criticized for being modern-day forms of indentured servitude and even described as predatory and discriminatory if taken to the extreme. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Term Sheet -- Wednesday, June 12," 12 June 2019 Once in Alabama, 25 young people from the voyage were sold to nearby slave brokers, but the rest stayed in servitude in the Mobile area on various plantations, including Meaher's. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Last American Transatlantic Slave Ship Has Been Found," 23 May 2019 Prior to that issue, the March 2018 issue was perhaps its boldest, denouncing the servitude of religious sisters who work for next to nothing to cook and clean for bishops and cardinals. Nicole Winfield, The Seattle Times, "Founder, all-female board of Vatican women’s magazine quit," 26 Mar. 2019 Wambach could see just how badly the women’s team had been treated—and decided her decades of silence and servitude to the sport were over. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Abby Wambach Won't Stop Until the U.S. Women's Soccer Team Gets Equal Pay," 12 Mar. 2019 Eight months after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, involuntary servitude became unconstitutional. Harold Holzer, WSJ, "‘Uncivil Warriors’ Review: Lawyers at Civil War," 29 July 2018 Her autopsy showed malnourishment and broken bones all over her body, and the medical examiner's report cited family members who described a life of servitude for the girl, who had to sleep in a closet and eat dog food. Jane Wester, charlotteobserver, "Prosecutors to seek death penalty against Erica Parsons' adoptive father | Charlotte Observer," 4 Apr. 2018 Buried in the Centennial State’s 1876 constitution is a provision that technically permits a person to be sentenced to slavery or indentured servitude if convicted of a crime. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "Colorado ballot measure would remove 'slavery' from state constitution," 30 July 2018

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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Statistics for servitude

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for servitude

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

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More Definitions for servitude

servitude

noun

English Language Learners Definition of servitude

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

servitude

noun
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

servitude

noun
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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Comments on servitude

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