Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the process of giving freedom and rights to someone

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun emancipation comes from the verb ’emancipate’, a word of Latin origin that has its roots in the power of the Roman male to control his wife and children. It has been in use in English since the mid 17th century.


Today is Juneteenth, an unofficial holiday celebrated annually in the US to mark the date in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger, supported by federal troops, read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas. The day marked the formal liberation of the last remaining enslaved people in the Southern states, even though slavery persisted in some areas and was not finally ended until the ratification of the 13th amendment at the end of the year. Juneteenth has been celebrated informally ever since, although it is not a federal holiday. It is, however, an official holiday in 47 out of the 50 US states. The day is often celebrated with prayer meetings, parades and cookouts, though all of these have had to be abandoned this year. Emancipation comes from the verb emancipate and there is a related adjective emancipated which is often applied to women who are not limited by traditional ideas about women’s roles.


In a sense the quest for the emancipation of black people in the U.S. has always been a quest for economic liberation which means to a certain extent that the rise of black middle class would be inevitable.
(Angela Davis)

“Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”
(Lyndon B Johnson)

Related words

liberty, autonomy, independence, freedom

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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