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noun tra·vail \trə-ˈvāl, ˈtra-ˌvāl\

: a difficult experience or situation

: painful or difficult work or effort

Full Definition of TRAVAIL

a :  work especially of a painful or laborious nature :  toil
b :  a physical or mental exertion or piece of work :  task, effort
c :  agony, torment

Examples of TRAVAIL

  1. They finally succeeded after many months of travail.
  2. <no greater travail than that of parents who have suffered the death of a child>

Origin of TRAVAIL

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from travailler to torment, labor, journey, from Vulgar Latin *trepaliare to torture, from Late Latin trepalium instrument of torture, from Latin tripalis having three stakes, from tri- + palus stake — more at pole
First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of TRAVAIL

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>.


intransitive verb \same as 1; in prayer-book communion service usually ˈtra-ˌvāl\

Definition of TRAVAIL

:  to labor hard :  toil
:  labor 3

Examples of TRAVAIL

  1. <Labor Day is the day on which we recognize those men and women who daily travail with little appreciation or compensation.>

First Known Use of TRAVAIL

13th century
Medical Dictionary


noun tra·vail \trə-ˈvā(ə)l, ˈtrav-ˌāl\

Medical Definition of TRAVAIL


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