1630s, "a setting free," from French émancipation, from Latin emancipationem (nominative emancipatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of emancipare (see emancipate).
In modern use especially of the freeing of a minor from parental control. Specifically with reference to U.S. slavery from 1785 (the Emancipation Proclamation was issued July 22, 1862, effective Jan. 1, 1863). In Britain, with reference to easing of restrictions on Catholics, etc.
updated on September 19, 2018