Student Dictionary

4 entries found for slave.
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Main Entry: 1slave
Pronunciation: primarystressslamacrv
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English sclave "slave," from early French esclave (same meaning), derived from Latin Sclavus "Slav"
1 : a person who is owned by another person and can be sold at the owner's will
2 : a person who has lost self-control and is controlled by something or someone else <a slave to bad habits>
3 : a person who performs difficult or boring work : DRUDGE
- slave adjective
Word History In the Middle Ages, Germanic people fought and raided other peoples, especially the Slavic peoples to the east. They took a great many captives there and sold them as slaves throughout Europe. The Slavic people were so common as slaves that writers of the time used the Latin word for "Slav," Sclavus, to mean "a personal slave." The Latin word became sclave in Middle English and then slave in Modern English. Of course slavery and slaves had existed long before the Middle Ages. The ancient Romans used the Latin word servus for "slave." This Latin word is the ancestor of our word servant. In French, servus became serf and was used for a slave who belonged to a piece of land rather than to an individual. Serf has continued to mean this in both French and English, although serfs themselves no longer exist.

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