Definition of enslave in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Make (someone) a slave.

    • ‘It continues its raids, terrorizing villages, killing civilians and capturing and enslaving children.’
    • ‘If you are enslaved, you cannot go anywhere of your own free will.’
    • ‘They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world.’
    • ‘Earlier this year, three soldiers and paramilitaries were convicted of mass rape and of sexually enslaving women.’
    • ‘Both stories focus on the ways in which enslaved people created community and resisted their oppression.’
    • ‘I concede, therefore, that he might have enslaved the Irish prisoners of war.’
    • ‘He had sworn when he was seven years old that no one would ever enslave him again.’
    • ‘The indigenous people were killed or enslaved, their cities lost to the forest.’
    • ‘It was perfectly acceptable, or at least conceivable, to make war on, exterminate, or enslave colored people.’
    • ‘For example, my ancestors came to this country during the wave of mass immigration in the early part of the 1900s - they certainly didn't enslave anybody and neither did their ancestors.’
    • ‘But his are cries of impotent despair against the master who has enslaved him.’
    • ‘If you have a religion, a belief system or a traditional practice that enslaves people, puts them in servitude and reduces their dignity, then you violate our national constitution.’
    • ‘Just as they are bond slaves to sin, so they seek to enslave us similarly.’
    • ‘Practically enslaving me, killing my parents, ruining my estate, and refusing to tell me whether my only brother is still living is kindly?’
    • ‘His fighters laid siege to a country's cities, starved and enslaved its people, and sowed its fields with mines.’
    • ‘It's you and your ancestors who got rich in the first place by murdering, stealing land, enslaving people and animals, stealing and selling cultures and destroying the environment.’
    • ‘Murdered and enslaved children, no matter what their color or gender or faith, suffer because of our failings.’
    • ‘Unicef estimates that up to 200,000 children are enslaved in West Africa.’
    • ‘Why should we support religiously intolerant regimes that virtually enslave women and persecute nonbelievers to death?’
    • ‘Adams, the farmer's son who despised slavery and practiced the kind of personal economy and plain living commonly upheld as the American way, was scorned as an aristocrat who, if he could, would enslave the common people.’
    sell into slavery, condemn to slavery, take away someone's human rights, disenfranchise, condemn to servitude
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    1. 1.1 Cause (someone) to lose their freedom of choice or action.
      ‘they were enslaved by their need to take drugs’
      • ‘He said today's youth had to pursue freedom in order to avoid being enslaved by crime and drugs.’
      • ‘In fact, I suspect he'd go on an extended rant about how the evil totalitarian government was enslaving him and stealing his TV or some such.’
      • ‘More broadly, his counternarrative of the Enlightenment suggested that the modern institutions we imagined were freeing us were in fact enslaving us in insidious ways.’
      • ‘A free person is enslaved neither to the sheer will of another nor to his own appetites and passions.’
      • ‘We are enslaved by a visionless government who is mortgaging our future deeper and deeper while they all get rich.’
      • ‘Burning this important resource (on the farm or at the power plant) enslaves the farmer to a cycle of increasing fertiliser use and decreasing productivity.’
      • ‘It can infuse vehemence and passion into spoken words in many ways, and when combined with argumentative passages it not only persuades the auditor but actually enslaves him.’
      • ‘An artist is enslaved by time only if the time is controlled by someone or something other than himself.’
      • ‘It was given the freedom to enslave itself, not true freedom to develop.’
      • ‘If so, it sounds as though these other people are enslaving this woman: they get to run her life for her.’
      • ‘Were not most of the crowd enslaved by sex, drugs and rock-n-roll?’
      • ‘Pleasure seeking often enslaves people in a vicious cycle of addiction…’
      • ‘Trying to identify the persons or objects toward which the gratitude should be directed could be an enslaving project, so why not enjoy your freedom instead?’
      • ‘Tyrants rise and enslave the spirit of freedom.’
      • ‘They had believed in a governing philosophy which enslaved even as it proclaimed a transcendent freedom.’
      • ‘In other words, freedom cannot prevail without taking all intervening and enslaving hands off of the brains and hearts of the individuals.’
      • ‘Sin, too, is a very powerful and cruel tyrant, dominating and ruling over the whole world, capturing and enslaving all men.’
      • ‘People who are enslaved to work do have a choice, and if they were as smart as they like to think they are, they should spend more time at home.’
      • ‘I support a troop's right to disobey his or her commanding officer, to desert, to subvert the system that enslaves him.’
      • ‘The few humans on top have chosen to enslave the masses and keep them ignorant.’


Early 17th century (in the sense ‘make (a person) subject to a superstition, passion, etc.’; formerly also as inslave): from en-, in- (as an intensifier) + slave.