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

Definition of slavery

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for slavery



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Examples of slavery in a Sentence

Frederick Douglass was central advocate for the abolition of slavery. My dad put up with the slavery of working in the coal mines every day of his adult life.
Recent Examples on the Web White residents get to cherish their heritage without a perception of being bigots, while Black residents of the town can live their lives without a reminder of slavery and suppression. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Gettysburg, S.D.; prison and COVID-19; school lockdowns; James Ford Bell; wimpy sports columnists," 17 Oct. 2020 There is no need to further justify reparations for Africans and the African diaspora to redress the legacy of slavery and colonialism. Lynsey Chutel, Quartz Africa, "What is owed Africa," 13 Oct. 2020 Lincoln’s contested legacy, his evolution on slavery and abolition, and his imperfections are an essential part of understanding the Civil War. Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Outsized Role of the President in Race Relations," 8 Oct. 2020 The root is, of course, slavery and itsforced transportation, whether from Africa to the U.S. or the tearing apart of families when enslaved people were sold. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, "PBS documentary 'Driving While Black' is an essential and infuriating history of racism," 8 Oct. 2020 That speech was delivered in Rochester, New York, 168 years ago by abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was born in slavery. Aamer Madhani,, "Much of US scales back on holiday as COVID-19 cases spike, but President Trump is going big," 4 July 2020 At Roots 101 African American museum on Main Street, founder Lamont Collins displayed chains and a neck hook that were used to capture and keep people in slavery. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, "100+ youth march 'for freedom' in downtown Louisville on Independence Day," 4 July 2020 With Simms, Douglass shared nothing except a keen interest in slavery’s place in human affairs and fiercely opposite conceptions of why the American republic was fated to fall. Washington Post, "‘Union’ tells the origin story of the United States through 19th-century voices," 26 June 2020 But there has long been a bias for white or fair-skinned actors, models, and potential brides and grooms, and an inherent prejudice against Black Arabs with origins in Africa – a colorism activists say is rooted in slavery. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "Voicing ‘solidarity’ against US racism, Arabs expose scourge at home," 22 June 2020

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 3

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Time Traveler for slavery

Time Traveler

The first known use of slavery was in 1551

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Statistics for slavery

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Slavery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce slavery (audio)

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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