Definition of galley slave in English:

galley slave


  • 1A person condemned to man the oars in a galley.

    • ‘And I could do nothing but sit there like a galley slave.’
    • ‘He notes that military captives and criminals were available in quantity and reminds us (in interesting detail) of the long tradition of galley slaves at the oars of Mediterranean shipping.’
    • ‘I'll bet John Knox never complained of it, even during his stint as a galley slave.’
    • ‘Like the Baron's son, Pangloss received one hundred strokes to the soles of his feet and was sent to be a galley slave.’
    • ‘It had the practical effect of freeing thousands of Christian galley slaves.’
    1. 1.1 A person who works very hard, typically performing menial or thankless tasks.
      ‘call-centre workers are the galley slaves of the twenty-first century’
      • ‘Since arriving on the scene one year ago, the Liberal appointee has accelerated the review process to ramming speed, using his faithful retainers, naturally, as the galley slaves.’
      • ‘Government galley slaves were angry that they had to shell out $30.00 for the official Christmas do last night, kindly organised for them by Chief Whip Jim Lloyd.’
      • ‘All we need to remember is that there were many galley slaves but few overseers.’
      • ‘Men are turning into galley slaves with cooking, washing and ironing duties while women are out on the town - unescorted, for goodness sake.’
      • ‘The considerate husband will keep in mind that his wife is a living, throbbing human being, not merely a galley slave to do his bidding.’
      • ‘How do those "galley slaves" of the Japanese factory bear such conditions of labour?’
      • ‘"We worked like galley slaves to get them all sorted out."’
      • ‘The missive, from Paul Winkler, a former Hollinger galley slave, pointed the OSC to Tubby's and David Radler's self-dealing.’
      hard worker, toiler, workhorse, stakhanovite
      menial, menial worker, slave, toiler, lackey
      View synonyms