slav·​ery | \ ˈslā-v(ə-)rē How to pronounce slavery (audio) \

Definition of slavery

1 : drudgery, toil
2 : submission to a dominating influence
3a : the state of a person who is a chattel of another
b : the practice of slaveholding

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Synonyms & Antonyms for slavery


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


freedom, liberty

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Examples of slavery in a Sentence

She was sold into slavery. a child born into slavery was considered simply another addition to the master's wealth and property

Recent Examples on the Web

When the Revolutionary War began, slavery was legal in every one of the 13 colonies, Dr. Finkelman said, and remained legal in all 13 states as the new country was born. Jo Craven Mcginty, WSJ, "A Look at African-American History, Through the Numbers," 15 Feb. 2019 Later in the podcast, moderator Edie Lush shared some statistics that expose the reality of just how common modern day slavery is. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Princess Eugenie Speaks Out About Her Mission to End Modern Slavery," 4 Sep. 2018 After arguing that slavery was a choice, defending Donald Trump, and generally confusing the hell out of people for the better part of the last few months, Kanye West's new album Ye landed with a bit of a thud last week. Jaya Saxena, GQ, "Kanye's KIDS SEE GHOSTS Rollout Is a Hot Mess," 8 June 2018 To her, an ardent abolitionist and daughter of a world-famous preacher, slavery was a religious and emotional challenge. Jared Brock, Smithsonian, "The Story of Josiah Henson, the Real Inspiration for ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’," 16 May 2018 Wonder said saying slavery is a choice is like saying the Holocaust is not real. CBS News, "Stevie Wonder says Kanye West slavery comments are “foolishness”," 12 May 2018 DeRosa said his point is that slavery is about power, not race. Scott Travis,, "FAU students riled as professor blames slavery on blacks," 7 Apr. 2018 At the time, slavery was still legal in the U.S., though importation of slaves had been a crime since 1808. Connor Sheets,, "Hamilton woman dies in one-car crash in Frankiln County," 18 Feb. 2018 This past April, the Equal Justice Initiative opened the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, to increase understanding of how the harms of slavery continue to manifest in modern times. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "By passing the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act this week, the Senate acknowledged its role in decades of racial terrorism.," 21 Dec. 2018

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

1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for slavery

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for slavery

The first known use of slavery was in 1551

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More Definitions for slavery



English Language Learners Definition of slavery

: the state of being a slave
: the practice of owning slaves


slav·​ery | \ ˈslā-və-rē How to pronounce slavery (audio) , ˈslāv-rē\

Kids Definition of slavery

1 : the state of being owned by another person : bondage
2 : the custom or practice of owning slaves
3 : hard tiring labor : drudgery

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Comments on slavery

What made you want to look up slavery? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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