labor

noun
la·​bor | \ ˈlā-bər How to pronounce labor (audio) \

Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory was sentenced to six months at hard labor
b(1) : human activity that provides the goods or services in an economy Industry needs labor for production.
(2) : the services performed by workers for wages as distinguished from those rendered by entrepreneurs for profits
c : the physical activities (such as dilation of the cervix and contraction of the uterus) involved in giving birth also : the period of such labor
2 : an act or process requiring labor : task The three-month project evolved into a year-long labor.
3 : a product of labor The flood destroyed the labor of years.
4a : an economic group comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages wants the vote of labor in the elections
b(1) : workers employed in an establishment
(2) : workers available for employment Immigrants provided a source of cheap labor.
c : the organizations or officials representing groups of workers negotiations between labor and management
5 usually Labour : the Labour party of the United Kingdom or of another part of the Commonwealth of Nations

labor

verb
labored; laboring\ ˈlā-​b(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce laboring (audio) \

Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to exert one's powers of body or mind especially with painful or strenuous effort : work
2 : to move with great effort the truck labored up the hill
3 : to be in the labor of giving birth
4 : to suffer from some disadvantage or distress labor under a delusion
5 of a ship : to pitch or roll heavily

transitive verb

1 archaic

a : to spend labor on or produce by labor
b : to strive to effect or achieve
2 : to treat or work out in often laborious detail labor the obvious
4 : to cause to labor

labor

adjective

Definition of labor (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : of or relating to labor
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

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Choose the Right Synonym for labor

Noun

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

Noun

labor and work mean action involving effort or exertion. work can apply to either mental or physical effort and may involve something that is enjoyable but tiring. Decorating the gym was hard work. labor suggests great or unpleasant usually physical exertion. She dreaded the dull labor of cleaning.

Examples of labor in a Sentence

Noun

A day's labor should get the job done. Getting the job done will require many hours of difficult labor. He rested from his labors. The cost of repairing the car includes parts and labor. an area in which there is a shortage of cheap labor The proposed new law is opposed by organized labor. She went into labor this morning. She has been in labor for several hours. She began to have labor pains this morning. She had a difficult labor.

Verb

Workers labored in the vineyard. He labored for several years as a miner. She has labored in vain to convince them to accept her proposal. We should honor those who labored so long to make the truth known. The truck labored up the hill. I have been laboring through this book for months. She has a tendency to labor the obvious.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

However, her complicity in the deep-rooted and ongoing issue of sweatshop labor remains. Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, "Garment Workers Have Organized Strikes for Over 100 Years As They Pay the Human Cost of Fashion," 8 Mar. 2019 More than a decade of labor and an untold amount of money has gone into the restoration of airframe 44-83887 under the leadership of master aircraft restorer Tom Reilly of Douglas, Georgia. Chris Clarke, Popular Mechanics, "Super-Rare XP-82 Twin Mustang Flies Again After Decade-Long Restoration," 4 Jan. 2019 Partnerships between the two kinds of institutions have helped schools see the fruits of their labor and stay relevant in a quickly evolving tech scene. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Universities, chasing the startup economy, reshape urban real estate," 7 Aug. 2018 Builders say that's because of the rising costs of labor, lumber and lots. Paul Gores, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Home building slows in metro Milwaukee during the first half of the year," 10 July 2018 Like the White Sox manager, Hinch took over a team in the midst of a rebuild and now is enjoying the fruits of its labor. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Astros manager A.J. Hinch sees brighter days for White Sox, and Rick Renteria's positivity is a big reason," 7 July 2018 To cut labor costs, the Manhattan Company wanted the tower completed in only one year. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 Mar. 2019 Additionally, labor costs and fees associated with preparing the surface are added to the final cost of your concrete pouring project. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "This Is How Much An Average Concrete Project Will Cost You," 25 Jan. 2019 Companies' higher labor costs are driving them to make workers more efficient, often through technology. Christopher Rugaber, The Seattle Times, "U.S. retailers hope higher pay will buy more efficient workers," 1 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At a large lab at Tweed, for example, scientists are laboring away under fume hoods on marijuana drinks. Ian Austen, The Seattle Times, "Dreams of big profits as marijuana becomes legal in Canada," 16 Oct. 2018 In that game, Simmons batted fifth in a lineup that at times genuinely labored, the Angels finishing 22nd in baseball in runs. Jeff Miller, latimes.com, "Andrelton Simmons looks to build on last year's offense," 5 Mar. 2018 The teen, who seemed to be laboring to breathe, kept asking for police — briefly pausing between each word to try to catch his breath. Herman Wong And Lindsey Bever, chicagotribune.com, "Police responding to dying Ohio teen's 911 call stayed in patrol car, body cam shows," 22 Apr. 2018 Paul seemed to be laboring after opening the fourth quarter with a jump shot. Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets' Trevor Ariza, Chris Paul leave game early with injuries," 28 Jan. 2018 Often kids are more in tune with what the laboring person needs than some adults. Emma Baty, Redbook, "7 Birth Photographers Reveal the Coolest Thing They've Seen In the Delivery Room," 9 June 2017 In the next mural, two Hispanic women are at work on an adobe building, while a man labors in a field. Mary Hudetz, The Seattle Times, "University head recommends covering controversial murals," 9 Oct. 2018 Galloway watched toddlers laboring in his lab to build their strength and coordination. Kate Horowitz, Popular Mechanics, "Why Power Wheels Are the Perfect Physical Therapy Tool for Kids," 9 Aug. 2016 Eileen spends her evenings pacifying her alcoholic father with bottles of booze, and her days laboring as a secretary at a correctional facility for boys. New York Times, "A Woman Sleeps a Year Away in Ottessa Moshfegh’s Darkly Comic New Novel," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The longer labor laws stand still, the better corporations get maneuvering around them. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Labor Board Delivers Big Blow to Fast-Food Workers," 15 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'labor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of labor

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Adjective

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for labor

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

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

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More Definitions for labor

labor

noun

English Language Learners Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: physical or mental effort
: work for which someone is paid
: workers considered as a group

labor

verb

English Language Learners Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to do work
: to work hard in order to achieve something
: to move or proceed with effort

labor

noun
la·​bor | \ ˈlā-bər How to pronounce labor (audio) \

Kids Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : usually hard physical or mental effort
2 : something that has to be done : task Now a procession of ants appeared … and went about their labors— Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer
3 : work for which someone is paid The bill included parts and labor.
4 : workers considered as a group There's a shortage of skilled labor.
5 : the process by which or time during which a woman gives birth

labor

verb
labored; laboring

Kids Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to work hard : toil Workers labored in the field.
2 : to move slowly and with great effort The truck labored up the hill.

labor

noun
la·​bor
variants: or British labour \ ˈlā-​bər How to pronounce labour (audio) \

Medical Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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: or British labour

Medical Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be in the labor of giving birth

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More from Merriam-Webster on labor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with labor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for labor

Spanish Central: Translation of labor

Nglish: Translation of labor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of labor for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about labor

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