[ab-uh-lish-uh-niz-uh m]


the principle or policy of abolition, especially of slavery of blacks in the U.S.

Origin of abolitionism

First recorded in 1800–10; abolition + -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for abolitionism

Historical Examples of abolitionism

Word Origin and History for abolitionism

1790, in the anti-slavery sense, from abolition + -ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

abolitionism in Culture


The belief that slavery should be abolished. In the early nineteenth century, increasing numbers of people in the northern United States held that the nation's slaves should be freed immediately, without compensation to slave owners. John Brown, Frederick W. Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman were well-known abolitionists.


Abolitionism in the United States was an important factor leading to the Civil War.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.