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


donkeywork, drudge, drudgery, fatigue, grind, labor, moil, 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

Eventually taking her destiny into her own hands and adopting a sobriquet that expressed her life’s purpose, Sojourner Truth traveled the country telling the terrible truth of slavery. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Tales of Bravery and Brilliance," 8 Nov. 2018 Sojourner Truth, a legendary orator who had a hand disability, lit the flames of modern feminism through speeches about women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. Ola Ojewumi, SELF, "I'm Celebrating My Disabled Black Girl Magic Because I'm Done Feeling Invisible," 7 Nov. 2018 Black women are often to blame for the attacks on their own bodies, going all the way back to the era of slavery. Amanda Mitchell, Marie Claire, "The "Wonderful Weirdness" of Female Sexuality," 23 Oct. 2018 John Wilkes Booth killed the president who was getting rid of slavery. Fox News, "Maxine Waters renews calls to impeach President Trump," 11 Sep. 2018 Claire argues with Jamie's aunt (Maria Doyle Kennedy) on the topic of slavery, someone gets kidnapped, someone else gets publicly hanged, and Claire tries to convince Jamie to fight on the winning side of yet another war. Emily Wang, Glamour, "The First Full Trailer For Outlander Season 4 Is Here and It's ... a Lot," 10 Sep. 2018 In defending the family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited a Bible passage invoked by defenders of slavery. Kristine Phillips, Washington Post, "A church put Jesus, Mary and Joseph in ‘ICE detention’ to protest Trump’s immigration policies," 3 July 2018 Upon arrival in Alabama, Lewis endured over five years of slavery before Union soldiers delivered the news of his freedom. Emily Bernard, The New Republic, "Zora Neale Hurston’s drive to tell the story of the slave trade’s last survivor," 19 June 2018 That hasn't happened in this country since the time of slavery? Fox News, "Rep. Meadows says subpoenas forthcoming over Russia probe," 22 June 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

20 Nov 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).


by force of circumstances

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