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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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 Its title references the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime. Candace Mcduffie, The Christian Science Monitor, "Racial justice: Five eye-opening documentaries," 26 June 2020 The talk-show host, actress and activist will portray a Georgia woman trapped in servitude in the 1800s. Keyaira Boone, Essence, "Keke Palmer To Star In And Executive-Produce Slavery Sci-Fi Thriller 'Alice'," 12 June 2020 Many of the country’s police departments trace their roots back to the slave patrols that curtailed freedom by returning runaway slaves to involuntary servitude. Brooke Cunningham, Time, "Protesting Police Brutality and Racial Oppression Is Essential Work," 8 June 2020 This story tells of indentured servitude, mail-order brides and a scheming land grab. Mike Hughes,, "Here's what you need to watch on TV each day this week: May 24-30," 24 May 2020 Sort of like pressuring future star George Springer into signing a subpar deal – or take another few months of minor league servitude. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "As Astros empire collapses, players, executives must ponder one question: Was it worth it?," 14 Jan. 2020 The state made involuntary servitude a labor trafficking crime in 2007. oregonlive, "Oregon’s attorney general creates task force to address labor trafficking," 10 Jan. 2020 In 1865, the federal government abolished almost all forms of slavery, but the 13th Amendment allowed for one exception: When the opportunity of servitude was punishment for a crime. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "Minnesota's constitution still allows slavery as a punishment for crimes. Now lawmakers are trying to change that," 21 Feb. 2020 And although the two families eventually settle into a give-and-take relationship of servitude and riches, there is an unforeseen parasite that threatens to destroy it all by exposing the truth. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "Here's What the Oscar-Winning Thriller 'Parasite' Is Actually About," 15 Feb. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for servitude

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Servitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for servitude


How to pronounce servitude (audio)

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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