[ sley-vuh-ree, sleyv-ree ]
/ ˈsleɪ və ri, ˈsleɪv ri /
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the condition of being enslaved, held, or owned as human chattel or property; bondage.
a practice or institution that treats or recognizes some human beings as the legal property of others.
a state of subjection like that of a slave: He longed to escape the slavery of drug addiction.
severe toil; drudgery.
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of slavery

First recorded in 1545–55; slav(e) + -ery

synonym study for slavery

1. Slavery, bondage, servitude refer to involuntary subjection to another or others. Slavery emphasizes the idea of complete ownership and control by an owner or master: to be sold into slavery. Bondage indicates a state of subjugation or captivity often involving burdensome and degrading labor: in bondage to a cruel master. Servitude is compulsory service, often such as is required by a legal penalty: penal servitude.


pre·slav·er·y, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use slavery in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for slavery

/ (ˈsleɪvərɪ) /

the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune
the subjection of a person to another person, esp in being forced into work
the condition of being subject to some influence or habit
work done in harsh conditions for low pay
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012