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peonage

[pee-uh-nij] /ˈpi ə nɪdʒ/
noun
1.
the condition or service of a peon.
2.
the practice of holding persons in servitude or partial slavery, as to work off a debt or to serve a penal sentence.
Origin
1840-1850
1840-50, Americanism; peon1 + -age
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for peonage
  • Whether all or some of the peonage investigators were called special agents is not known.
  • peonage is a condition of involuntary servitude imposed to extract repayment of an indebtedness.
  • Has the primary enforcement responsibility for the involuntary servitude and peonage statutes.
British Dictionary definitions for peonage

peonage

/ˈpiːənɪdʒ/
noun
1.
the state of being a peon
2.
a system in which a debtor must work for his creditor until the debt is paid off
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for peonage
n.

1848, American English, from peon + -age.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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peonage in Culture
peonage [(pee-uh-nij)]

A system of forced labor based on debts incurred by workers. Peonage developed particularly in plantation economies, where employers forced laborers to buy from employer-owned stores, pay inflated prices, and stay in debt.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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