slavery

noun

slav·​ery ˈslā-v(ə-)rē How to pronounce slavery (audio)
1
a
: the practice of slaveholding
b
: the state of a person who is held in forced servitude
c
: a situation or practice in which people are entrapped (as by debt) and exploited
… the unit has freed more than 26,000 workers nationwide from debt slavery. Under the practice, common in the Amazon, poor laborers are lured to remote spots where they rack up debts to plantation owners who charge exorbitant prices for everything from food to transportation.Vivian Sequera
Many members of my own family, including my mother and father, fled their work as sharecroppers in the South. They left for good reason: the profession offered no future and was little more than wage slavery.Will Allen
2
: submission to a dominating influence
slavery to habit
3

Example Sentences

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 The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. Lisa Mascaro And Farnoush Amiri, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Jan. 2023 The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. Arkansas Online, 6 Jan. 2023 The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. Lisa Mascaro And Farnoush Amiri, Chicago Tribune, 6 Jan. 2023 The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. Lisa Mascaro And Farnoush Amiri, ajc, 6 Jan. 2023 The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. Time, 6 Jan. 2023 The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. Lisa Mascaro, Fortune, 5 Jan. 2023 The longest fight for the gavel started in late 1855 and dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots, during debates over slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. Lisa Mascaro, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Jan. 2023 The United Methodist Church formed in 1968 from the union of Methodist denominations that split over slavery in the 1800s. Peter Weber, The Week, 5 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1551, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of slavery was in 1551

Dictionary Entries Near slavery

Cite this Entry

“Slavery.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slavery. Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

slavery

noun
slav·​ery ˈslāv-(ə-)rē How to pronounce slavery (audio)
1
2
a
: the state of being a slave
b
: the practice of slaveholding

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