CHATTEL Literally defined, the term chattel refers to a movable item of personal property (chattel personal) or any interest in real estate less than a freehold (chattel real). An integral aspect of Afro-American slavery was the dehumanizing legal definition of slaves as being chattel. In the antebellum South, most state slave codes defined the slave as constituting personal property (personalty or chattel personal). On the other hand, several states, including Louisiana and (before 1852) Kentucky, legally defined the status of slaves as being real estate (realty or chattel real). See also: SLAVE CODES.