Word of the Month: Thraldom

David Zapatka

While reading page 52 of The Labours of Hercules by Alice A. Bailey in my book-reading group, I ran across this sentence. “Let the soul be single in its purpose and freed from the thraldom of matter, and then right action and a right point of view will inevitably be the characteristics of the physical plane life.”

Thraldom (Thralldom): noun ˈthrȯl -dəm 1a: a state of servitude or submission. 1b: a state of complete absorption. 2a: an enslaved person who performs the duties of a servant. 2b: a person in moral or mental servitude.

Origin and Etymology: Middle English thral, from Old English thræl, from Old Norse thræll

First Used: before the 12th century.

Thraldom used in a sentence:

In 1826, he paid a visit to Goethe in Weimar, and was able to compare the enlightened conditions which prevailed in the little Saxon duchy with the intellectual thraldom of Vienna.

This tournament began in 1872 when Captain Moresby of the Royal Navy introduced the game to Bermuda, holding a match at Somerset to mark “forty years since the unjust thraldom of slavery.”

The remnant of the House of Hador was then put to thraldom; those able to work were taken to mines of the north or laboured as slaves for the Incomers and the old were killed or driven out to starve.

One visitor, Mary Carpenter, wrote in 1856 after visiting the city, “I found how very far behind Ahmedabad these other places [like Calcutta] were in effort to promote female education among the leading Hindus, in emancipation of the ladies from the thraldom imposed by custom; and in self-effort for improvement on their own part.”

Thraldom used in the news and literature:

Taseer believes the Indian media are increasingly in thrall to the Hindu nationalist BJP. —Billy Perrigo, Time, June 17, 2021

Both have battled entrenched practices in fields that remain in thrall to 19th-century European traditions. —Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, June 11, 2021

Even her husband, it is said, upon whose fortunes her talents and address had produced such emphatic influence, regarded her with respectful awe rather than confiding attachment; and report said, there were times when he considered his grandeur as dearly purchased at the expense of domestic thraldom. —The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott, published 1819

Did this word make you think of the more commonly-used word, “enthrall?”

Enthrall: transitive verb in-ˈthrȯl 1: to hold spellbound: charm. 2: to hold in or reduce to slavery

Enthrall used in the news:

Epic stories of success, conflict, romance and adventure enthrall us. —Divya Parekh, Forbes, May 25, 2021

Commitments and reversals, a continually impressive ability to seduce and enthrall, define the major periods in Rich’s life. —Lynn Steger Strong, The New Republic, May 13, 2021

Please submit any thraldom or enthralling experiences you may have had or any word you may like to share, along with your insights and comments to [email protected]