Definition of apartheid in US English:



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

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

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


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