Definition of apartheid in English:


Pronunciation /əˈpɑːtʌɪd//əˈpɑːtheɪt/


mass nounhistorical
  • 1(in South Africa) a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.

    • ‘Growing up in South Africa during apartheid, he has a clue about what it means to have minority groups in a society.’
    • ‘This was as part of a protest against South Africa's policy of apartheid.’
    • ‘I was part of the first Scottish educational mission to South Africa since apartheid was dismantled.’
    • ‘Never shy of taking risks, the series tackled such contentious issues as feminism and South African apartheid.’
    • ‘South Africa returned to the Commonwealth in 1994 after the policy of apartheid had been abandoned.’
    • ‘It was inspired by the economic boycotts that helped end apartheid in South Africa.’
    • ‘People are taking full advantage of the democratic spaces won against apartheid.’
    • ‘Also arrested were dozens of former fighters in the struggle to liberate South Africa from apartheid.’
    • ‘But apartheid, the system that dominated every aspect of South African life, is over.’
    • ‘Black people's struggle against apartheid in South Africa attracted immense worldwide solidarity.’
    • ‘The difference is that under apartheid that was the official policy of the Government.’
    • ‘It is the same story in every subsequent popular revolution, up to and including the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa.’
    • ‘I lived for many years in South Africa, during the dark days of apartheid.’
    • ‘Observers said it was the most momentous political development since the end of apartheid in South Africa.’
    • ‘Would they copy the South African model and adopt a system of apartheid, based on skin colour?’
    • ‘An interesting point that Rose was quoted on in the Guardian was that he applied the same boycott to South Africa under apartheid.’
    • ‘Incredibly, a decade after the end of apartheid this system still exists.’
    • ‘I was born in South Africa and under apartheid, if you were black, you were regarded as a terrorist.’
    • ‘Similar methods helped bring apartheid to an end in South Africa.’
    • ‘We urgently need to build a solidarity movement on the scale of those against South African apartheid and the Vietnam War in the past.’
    prejudice, bias, bigotry, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, unfairness, inequity, favouritism, one-sidedness, partisanship
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Segregation on grounds other than race.
      ‘gender apartheid’
      • ‘How viable is the latter without a transformation to remove the economic apartheid that has outlived the political?’
      • ‘Surely someone can tackle this sorry case of recycling apartheid.’
      • ‘If you haven't spoken to these people, it is hard to explain just how obsessed with sexual apartheid they are.’
      • ‘As a community we can remain largely in denial of apartheid in education.’
      • ‘It would mean a permanent nuclear apartheid based not on the original deal, but on who could acquire a weapon.’
      • ‘The segregation of women and sexual apartheid are seen as a desirable state for women in society.’
      • ‘Education apartheid in Limerick city is a scandal.’
      • ‘The leader of the moderate ATL teachers' union has condemned this as creating apartheid for refugee children.’
      • ‘He is a virulent racist who wants racial apartheid in Austria's schools.’
      • ‘Virtual apartheid is a fact of life in almost every urban school I visit nowadays.’
      • ‘Every year, this educational apartheid was worsened as a new batch of entrants deserted the state sector.’
      • ‘Yet of course it is they who practiced linguistic apartheid, and the system we propose which could bring this to an end.’
      • ‘Everyone in the country lives under a fierce system of sexual apartheid.’
      • ‘There you have gender apartheid and segregation which is very discriminatory against girls and women.’
      • ‘The marginalization of the poor countries created a state of global apartheid.’
      • ‘They argue that more international attention is needed on what amounts to hidden apartheid.’
      • ‘I believed I knew all about social apartheid which existed in Brazil, until I read the book.’
      • ‘If children are educated separately then it's a kind of apartheid.’
      • ‘Perhaps the authorities are guiding us towards complete apartheid.’
      • ‘It is apartheid and would be unthinkable in modern society were the segregation based on race or colour.’

Adopted as a slogan in the 1948 election by the successful Afrikaner National Party, apartheid extended and institutionalized existing racial segregation. Despite rioting and terrorism at home and isolation abroad from the 1960s onwards, the white regime maintained the apartheid system with only minor relaxation until February 1991


1940s: from Afrikaans, literally ‘separateness’, from Dutch apart ‘separate’ + -heid (equivalent of -hood).