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noun la·bor \ˈlā-bər\

Simple Definition of labor

  • : physical or mental effort

  • : work for which someone is paid

  • : workers considered as a group

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of labor

  1. 1 a :  expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory b (1) :  human activity that provides the goods or services in an economy (2) :  the services performed by workers for wages as distinguished from those rendered by entrepreneurs for profits c :  the physical activities (as dilation of the cervix and contraction of the uterus) involved in giving birth; also :  the period of such labor

  2. 2 :  an act or process requiring labor :  task

  3. 3 :  a product of labor

  4. 4 a :  an economic group comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages b (1) :  workers employed in an establishment (2) :  workers available for employment c :  the organizations or officials representing groups of workers

  5. 5 usually Labour :  the Labour party of the United Kingdom or of another part of the Commonwealth of Nations

Examples of labor in a sentence

  1. A day's labor should get the job done.

  2. Getting the job done will require many hours of difficult labor.

  3. He rested from his labors.

  4. The cost of repairing the car includes parts and labor.

  5. an area in which there is a shortage of cheap labor

  6. The proposed new law is opposed by organized labor.

  7. She went into labor this morning.

  8. She has been in labor for several hours.

  9. She began to have labor pains this morning.

  10. She had a difficult labor.

Origin of labor

Middle English, from Anglo-French labur, from Latin labor; perhaps akin to Latin labare to totter, labi to slip — more at sleep

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of labor

work, labor, travail, toil, drudgery, grind mean activity involving effort or exertion. work may imply activity of body, of mind, of a machine, or of a natural force <too tired to do any work>. labor applies to physical or intellectual work involving great and often strenuous exertion <farmers demanding fair compensation for their labor>. travail is bookish for labor involving pain or suffering <years of travail were lost when the house burned>. toil implies prolonged and fatiguing labor <his lot would be years of back-breaking toil>. drudgery suggests dull and irksome labor <an editorial job with a good deal of drudgery>. grind implies labor exhausting to mind or body <the grind of the assembly line>.

work, employment, occupation, calling, pursuit, métier, business mean a specific sustained activity engaged in especially in earning one's living. work may apply to any purposeful activity whether remunerative or not <her work as a hospital volunteer>. employment implies work for which one has been engaged and is being paid by an employer <your employment with this firm is hereby terminated>. occupation implies work in which one engages regularly especially as a result of training <his occupation as a trained auto mechanic>. calling applies to an occupation viewed as a vocation or profession <the ministry seemed my true calling>. pursuit suggests a trade, profession, or avocation followed with zeal or steady interest <her family considered medicine the only proper pursuit>. métier implies a calling or pursuit for which one believes oneself to be especially fitted <acting was my one and only métier>. business suggests activity in commerce or the management of money and affairs <the business of managing a hotel>.

Rhymes with labor



verb, la·bor

Simple Definition of labor

  • : to do work

  • : to work hard in order to achieve something

  • : to move or proceed with effort

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of labor

laboredlaboring play \-b(ə-)riŋ\

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to exert one's powers of body or mind especially with painful or strenuous effort :  work

  3. 2 :  to move with great effort <the truck labored up the hill>

  4. 3 :  to be in the labor of giving birth

  5. 4 :  to suffer from some disadvantage or distress <labor under a delusion>

  6. 5 of a ship :  to pitch or roll heavily

  7. transitive verb
  8. 1 archaic a :  to spend labor on or produce by labor b :  to strive to effect or achieve

  9. 2 :  to treat or work out in often laborious detail <labor the obvious>

  10. 3 :  distress, burden

  11. 4 :  to cause to labor

Examples of labor in a sentence

  1. Workers labored in the vineyard.

  2. He labored for several years as a miner.

  3. She has labored in vain to convince them to accept her proposal.

  4. We should honor those who labored so long to make the truth known.

  5. The truck labored up the hill.

  6. I have been laboring through this book for months.

  7. She has a tendency to labor the obvious.

14th Century

First Known Use of labor

14th century



adjective la·bor

Definition of labor

  1. 1 :  of or relating to labor

  2. 2 capitalized :  of, relating to, or constituting a political party held to represent the interests of workers or made up largely of organized labor groups


First Known Use of labor


LABOR Defined for Kids



noun la·bor \ˈlā-bər\

Definition of labor for Students

  1. 1 :  usually hard physical or mental effort

  2. 2 :  something that has to be done :  task <Now a procession of ants appeared … and went about their labors … — Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer>

  3. 3 :  work for which someone is paid <The bill included parts and labor.>

  4. 4 :  workers considered as a group <There's a shortage of skilled labor.>

  5. 5 :  the process by which or time during which a woman gives birth



verb la·bor

Definition of labor for Students


  1. 1 :  to work hard :  toil <Workers labored in the field.>

  2. 2 :  to move slowly and with great effort <The truck labored up the hill.>

Medical Dictionary



noun la·bor

Medical Definition of labor

  1. :  the physical activities involved in childbirth consisting essentially of a prolonged series of involuntary contractions of the uterine musculature together with both reflex and voluntary contractions of the abdominal wall <drugs that induce labor> <went into labor after a fall>; also :  the period of time during which such labor takes place

Variants of labor

or British labour \ˈlā-bər\play



intransitive verb la·bor

Medical Definition of labor

  1. :  to be in the labor of giving birth

Variants of labor

or British labour

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up labor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to dishevel or rumple

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