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

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 Georgia was named after King George II, who approved of slavery., "Here’s What Happened When a White Woman Tried To Explain Slavery To a Black Politician," 20 June 2018 Grimmette will perform Saturday at the Crofton Community Library as the Marylander who rose up from slavery to become an abolitionist leader and famous speaker. Janene Holzberg,, "For Gambrills resident Bill Grimmette, portrayal of Frederick Douglass pays homage to a pioneer of justice," 13 July 2018 Whether proponents of slavery in the antebellum South or enemies of civil rights protests in the twentieth century, few verses have been cited more by the defenders of inequality than Romans 13:1. Jonathan L. Walton, Time, "Why Authoritarians Love to Quote This Bible Passage," 22 June 2018 On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas. Cassie Armstrong,, "Juneteenth: How to observe in Central Florida," 19 June 2018 The city also recognized Juneteenth, a traditional African-American recognition of the emancipation from slavery. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "City recognitions show Aurora's diversity," 13 June 2018 African American guests were admitted only to celebrate Juneteenth (June 19), the holiday that commemorates emancipation from slavery in Texas on that date in 1865. Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, "Reader seeks home for special admission ticket to long-gone favorite Playland," 9 June 2018 The Amistad Center for Art & Culture will offer free admission in conjunction with a celebration of the 153rd anniversary of Juneteenth, which marks the abolition of slavery in the United States. Maya Moore,, "Connecticut's Open House Day Means Free Admission And More At State's Museums," 8 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

6 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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