USI – Glossary Of Terms

The Glossary lists key historical and contemporary terms related to the transatlantic slave trade. These words are used across the website and particularly in the Themes and Use of language.

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There are currently 26 Terms in this directory beginning with the letter M.
derived from a Kiswahili word meaning ‘disaster’, or ‘terrible occurrence’. It is used to refer to the enslavement of African people by Europeans. The definition also refers to the subsequent loss of indigenous African cultures, languages and religions
A term coming from slavery used for enslaved or emancipated Black women who looked after the children of their usually White master/employer in America
A list of cargo or passengers, especially on a ship or plane
brass bracelet-shaped objects mainly made in Europe and used as money on the West Coast of Africa to trade for enslaved people
legal process (and related documents) by which enslaved Africans could buy their freedom or be freed by their owner
enslaved Africans who escaped into the Jamaican wilderness to form their own separate communities, from the Spanish word cimarrón meaning wild or untamed
Martial law
military government, which suspends ordinary law
A person, object or animal which is supposed to bring good luck
Mason-Dixon line
named after two surveyors, it was originally the boundary between the English North American colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania; it came to mark the division between the Southern slave states and the Northern free states in the early 19th century
Mass movement
A large scale movement of people coming together for a shared purpose
Something that keeps alive the memory of a person or event
trader of goods, buying for one price and selling them on for an increased price
Christian group, founded by John Wesley and his brother when they broke away from the Church of England and built the first Methodist chapel in Bristol in 1739
Middle Passage
the second stage in the transatlantic slave trade, on which ships carried enslaved Africans from Africa to either the Caribbean islands or the Americas (see also Triangular trade)
to move from one place and settle in another, especially abroad
person sent to educate others about a religious faith
To assemble and make ready for action
exclusive ownership or control in the trade in particular goods or service
A place of scenic, historic or scientific merit set aside for preservation; a structure that honours a person or event
Of or relating to the judgement of right or wrong in human behaviours
Mother country
Native country; or the colonising country
native country; or the colonizing country
A saying that suggests an object or society’s nature or use
slimy substance secreted from parts of the body
Comes from the Spanish or Portuguese term for ‘young mule’. A mule is a hybrid mix of a horse and a donkey. This term is derogatory in its use to depict people of mixed race or people of dual descent, most often of an enslaved Black female and a White man; mixed race women were often more privileged than the enslaved from Africa but still treated as second-class citizens; the term ‘mulatto’ was commonly used in the 18th century but is now considered derogatory and unacceptable today
a mixture of several cultural groups