slav·ery | \ ˈslā-v(ə-)rē \

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


drudgery, grind, labor, sweat, toil, travail


fun, play

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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

Black music was born in the African-American culture dating back to slavery. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Stax Legend Al Bell on Black Music's Living Legacy and Power: 'My Life's Mission Is to Make Sure It Doesn't Die'," 6 July 2018 Historical retellings of the rise of American gynecology long overlooked the field’s intimate connection to American slavery. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Moments From American History That Matter Right Now," 28 June 2018 Still, none of West’s previous actions have elicited as much furor as his recent support of Donald Trump, his assertion that four centuries of slavery sounded like a choice—by the enslaved, or his cozying up to right-wing charlatans. Julian Kimble, GQ, "So Appalled: Kanye West Fans Debate What to Do with All that Yeezy Merch," 22 June 2018 In the 1850s, the debate reignited over whether new territories Kansas and Nebraska should be open to slavery. Randy Blaser,, "Column: Rename Douglas Park — and do it for history's sake," 23 May 2018 The willingness to return to slavery signified how much they were prepared to prioritize their families at any cost. Tera W. Hunter, The Root, "Some Did Choose to Return to Slavery Because They Chose Family Over Everything," 15 May 2018 First, the mom of a likely NBA lottery pick likened her son's experience playing college basketball to slavery. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Ending exploitation of athletes would be good start to fixing NCAA," 13 May 2018 Most have some relationship with federal or state funding, and none have endowments like those of the oldest, private universities in the northeast, many of which are uncovering their ties to slavery. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Why Beyoncé Placed HBCU’s at the Center of American Life," 7 May 2018 In 1846, during his time at Walden Pond, Thoreau spent the night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax, in opposition to slavery and the Mexican-American War. Kelly Scott Franklin, WSJ, "‘The Road to Walden’ Review: Peripatetic Ponderings," 12 July 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

11 Sep 2018

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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 , 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 deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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