Servitude vs certitude

Servitude and certitude are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, and are sometimes confused. We will examine the difference between the definitions of servitude and certitude, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Servitude is the state of being a slave or being subject to the wants, needs and whims of another person who is more powerful. Slaves are not the only people who may be in servitude. Serfs, sharecroppers and those who are in bondage are considered to be in servitude. Being in servitude may refer to a physical bondage, or it may refer to a spiritual, psychological or emotional bondage. While many may believe slavery to be a thing of the past, many people the world over are in servitude to their employers or state officials. The word servitude is derived from the thirteenth century French words servitude and servitute, which in turn were derived from the Latin word servus meaning slave.

Certitude is the absolute sureness of something, the personal conviction that something is true. Certitude is a noun and for the most part, it is interchangeable with the word certainty. Certitude is a term used in philosophy to mean the knowledge of truth with no doubt of that knowledge. In philosophy, there are three types of certitude. Physical certitude is the state of knowing that something is true because of the laws of nature. For instance, we know that if one drops an object, it will fall down to the ground and not up into the sky. Metaphysical certitude is the state of knowing that something is true because it is self-evident. For instance, René Descartes’ assertion: “I think, therefore I am.” Finally, moral certitude involves the judgements of human actions and character, and how one should behave in a certain situation. Moral certitude is based on one’s experiences and intuition, and may be fallible. For instance, a doctor may prescribe a certain drug to a patient believing that it will benefit the patient. However, all medications have side effects and do not work the same for all those who take it. With the experience the doctor has had studying the literature and prescribing the medication for others, he has the moral certitude that the medication will benefit his patient. The word certitude is derived from the Latin word certitudinem, which means what is certain.


A Grammy Award-winning music teacher in North Carolina is accused of using promises of a singing career to force a student into sexual servitude. (The Greensboro News & Record)

Mr Humphreys said it is currently like indentured servitude — where historically, poor workers had to ‘earn’ their freedom from employers — because some workers from outside the EU were relying on retaining their job to keep their visas. (The Irish Examiner)

A St. Marys man is facing charges including rape, involuntary servitude and promoting prostitution after he allegedly assaulted an unconscious woman and attempted to use images of the encounter to blackmail her. (The Courier-Express)

I didn’t know it then, but I can say with certitude after 40 years of business experience, being in a band is just like business. (Forbes Magazine)

The court reiterated the “paramount importance” of proving with certitude that the substance bought during the buy-bust operation is exactly the same substance offered in evidence before the court. (The Inquirer)

The gamblers among you, out there in golfdotcomland, will surely recognize this sweet moment, when you slide your tender one way and the lady under the fluorescent light slides you your computer-generated betting slip and you know with certitude, odds and logic be damned, that you have a winner. (Golf Magazine)

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