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

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 Perhaps the greatest contradiction of all was that America declared its independence yet kept the institution of slavery. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With a pandemic and protests over racial injustice, Independence Day raises the question: Whose America are we celebrating?," 4 July 2020 Southern defenders of slavery answered Stowe’s work with condemnations and counter stories. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "While offensive TV shows get pulled, problematic books are still inspiring debate and conversation," 3 July 2020 Supporters have said the name is important to the area's heritage and is separate from the history of slavery. Fox News, "Utah's Dixie State University considers name change, critics note slavery connotations," 2 July 2020 The ship is named after Roger B. Taney, the former chief justice of the Supreme Court who delivered the Dred Scott decision in 1857 that cemented the legality of slavery. Ben Kesling, WSJ, "Historic Coast Guard Ship ‘Taney’ to Be Renamed," 1 July 2020 In the United Kingdom, this dispute has centered on the country's imperial history and legacy of slavery. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, "Fact check: United Kingdom finished paying off debts to slave-owning families in 2015," 1 July 2020 Nonimmigrant Muslims are more likely to have lived out the history of the United States, including the unjust legacy of slavery. Amir Hussain, The Conversation, "Muslim Americans assert solidarity with Black Lives Matter, finding unity within a diverse faith group," 30 June 2020 The movie is based on author Joel Chandler Harris’s collection of Uncle Remus stories and is accused of glossing over the reality of slavery in the U.S. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Why one Disney park might keep Splash Mountain’s controversial theme, which critics call ‘racist’," 29 June 2020 One was more romanticized, and one highlighted more of the horrific details of slavery. Alana Dillette, Quartz Africa, "How a “roots tourism” visit to Ghana was an awakening for social justice in the United States," 28 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

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Slavery.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for slavery


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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