The definition of "slave"

So I was listening to the Diane Rehm show yesterday, and Isabel Allende was on. Apparently, Allende's most recent book has something to do with slaves.

A caller called in, full of dignified outrage, and said something along the lines of, "Please don't use the term slave anymore. It's offensive. Use 'enslaved.' These people were unwillingly held." Allende murmured her agreement with the new nomenclature and said "That's right. I hadn't thought of that." Diane Rehm said approvingly, "That's an excellent point. The enslaved were held against their will."

Huh? I'm pretty sure most definitions of "slave" already include the concept that slaves are held against their will (or at least, despite their will). I mean, it is actually necessary to the concept. Otherwise, that person would be considered an employee or someone working pro bono. What, exactly, does "enslaved" add? It's kind of shocking to see how people just jump aboard when someone suggests, no matter how ludicrous the grounds, that a given word is offensive.


  1. Shocking - to the point of being offensive.

  2. Talk about a distinction without a difference.


  3. It is even worse than that Dr. Dan, en is simply a prefix meaning In. and its function is to be able to use it as a verb. Enslave simply is the verb form process of making someone a slave, which is a noun. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the most basic rules of grammar. First you enslave someone, then they are slaves. In fact, he was enslaved is less useful since it gives no direct indication of him now, as opposed to he is a slave. Thus concludes the grammar lesson the day.


  4. Verbing weirds language.

  5. Yes, weirdly.