General English

  • noun a person who belongs to someone legally and works for him or her without pay
  • verb to work hard



  • A mechanism under the control of a similar mechanism, or a point that responds to a trigger. In fire safety systems, for example, if a fire alarm causes a siren to go off, the siren is the slave.


  • That which is controlled by something else. For example, a secondary station within a loran system, or a slave switch.

Origin & History of “slave”

The word slave commemorates the fate of the Slavic people in the past, reduced by conquest to a state of slavery. For ultimately slave and Slav are one and the same. The earliest record we have of the ethnic name is as Slavic Sloveninu, a word of unknown origin borrowed by Byzantine Greek as Sklábos and passed on to medieval Latin as Sclavus. It was this that was turned into a generic term sclavus ‘slave’, which passed into English via Old French esclave.