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) : the services performed by workers for wages as distinguished from those rendered by entrepreneurs for profits
(2) : human activity that provides the goods or services in an economy Industry needs labor for production.
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
2a : an economic group comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages wants the vote of labor in the elections
b : the organizations or officials representing groups of workers negotiations between labor and management
c(1) : workers employed in an establishment
(2) : workers available for employment Immigrants provided a source of cheap labor.
3 usually Labour : the Labour party of the United Kingdom or of another part of the Commonwealth of Nations
4 : an act or process requiring labor : task The three-month project evolved into a year-long labor.
5 : a product of labor The flood destroyed the labor of years.

labor

verb
labored; laboring\ ˈlā-​b(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce labor (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 suffer from some disadvantage or distress labor under a delusion
4 : to be in the labor of giving birth
5 of a ship : to pitch or roll heavily

transitive verb

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

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

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 Montpelier: The state is preparing to restore the work-search requirement for most people who are receiving unemployment benefits, Vermont’s labor commissioner said Tuesday. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Firefly lottery, vaccine exemptions, data breach: News from around our 50 states," 29 Apr. 2021 Many labor policy experts say that gig companies Uber, Lyft and DoorDash improperly classify their workers as contractors, instead of as employees. Washington Post, "Labor Secretary says gig workers should be classified as employees in “a lot of cases”," 29 Apr. 2021 Rayfield has now created two potential versions of House Bill 2680, one of which is favored more by labor and the other by businesses. oregonlive, "Big political donors get big say in Oregon political money limits," 29 Apr. 2021 Amazon has reached a settlement resolving complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the company disciplined or retaliated against employees who participated in activities protected by federal labor law. Lauren Zumbach, chicagotribune.com, "Amazon settles complaints alleging it retaliated against employees for COVID-19 safety strikes," 29 Apr. 2021 But the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, which backed the unionization efforts, filed complaints with the NLRB alleging that Amazon violated national labor law and interfered with the election. Fortune, "The battle of two tech giants," 29 Apr. 2021 Vietnam, with its less expensive labor, has become a major manufacturer just beyond China’s southern border. Jordan Mcgillis, National Review, "Climate Eyes Are on China, But What about ASEAN?," 29 Apr. 2021 As labor and care are currently organized, both frequently fail to meet our needs, let alone expand what’s possible. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "On Biden’s American Families Plan and Resisting the Conservative Politics of Care," 28 Apr. 2021 Available to any pregnant person who resides in Milwaukee, BOMB doulas support clients during pregnancy, labor and up to 12 weeks postpartum. Ashley Nguyen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How Wisconsin organizations supporting reproductive health and parenting weathered the pandemic," 28 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There are also sensations in audiobooks that the silent text alone must labor for. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "The Special Comfort of Audiobooks During Covid-19 and Trying Times," 28 Apr. 2021 The withering inspection report comes as public health officials labor to overcome vaccine hesitancy among millions of Americans concerned about the safety and effectiveness of the shots. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "FDA issues withering report on problems at Emergent BioSolutions factory that ruined millions of J&J vaccines," 21 Apr. 2021 As some researchers labor to solve the mystery of memory loss in dementia, others are attacking the mirror image problem of how to help patients escape the painful memories that dominate their daily life—and not just those with PTSD. Gary Stix, Scientific American, ""Eternal Sunshine" Drug Makes a Rat Forget Bad Things," 12 May 2012 Front-line workers make up about 30 million people who can't work remotely, including essential workers who labor in meat plants, grocery stores, prisons, and more. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Federal panel requests adults over 75 and front-line and essential workers be next in line for vaccine," 20 Dec. 2020 Ferrante must labor to get Vittoria up to Costanza’s affluent neighborhood to meet this woman and spot a bracelet on her wrist that happens to be the one Vittoria gave to Giovanna when she was born. Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books, "Making Order of the Breakdown," 24 Sep. 2020 Ferrante must labor to get Vittoria up to Costanza’s affluent neighborhood to meet this woman and spot a bracelet on her wrist that happens to be the one Vittoria gave to Giovanna when she was born. Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books, "Making Order of the Breakdown," 24 Sep. 2020 Ferrante must labor to get Vittoria up to Costanza’s affluent neighborhood to meet this woman and spot a bracelet on her wrist that happens to be the one Vittoria gave to Giovanna when she was born. Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books, "Making Order of the Breakdown," 24 Sep. 2020 Ferrante must labor to get Vittoria up to Costanza’s affluent neighborhood to meet this woman and spot a bracelet on her wrist that happens to be the one Vittoria gave to Giovanna when she was born. Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books, "Making Order of the Breakdown," 24 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In a high-profile move this month, Amazon.com Inc. workers at a Bessemer, Ala., warehouse voted against joining a retail union, despite a pro-labor video message to the distribution workers from Biden. Star Tribune, "Biden confronts decades of union decline in bid to boost wages," 18 Apr. 2021 In a high-profile move last week, Amazon.com Inc. workers at a Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse voted against joining a retail union, despite a pro-labor video message to the distribution workers from Biden. al, "Alabama Amazon union defeat shows struggle Biden faces to boost wages," 16 Apr. 2021 Still, the prospect of a pro-labor president — at a time when bashing technology companies has become a bipartisan pastime on Capitol Hill as well — threatens to tilt the policy battleground against Silicon Valley. Washington Post, "Amazon’s win in Alabama is latest victory in power struggle between tech giants, workers," 10 Apr. 2021 Still, the prospect of a pro-labor president - at a time when bashing technology companies has become a bipartisan pastime on Capitol Hill as well - threatens to tilt the policy battleground against Silicon Valley. Anchorage Daily News, "Amazon’s win in Alabama is latest victory in power struggle between tech giants, workers," 10 Apr. 2021 The lopsided outcome at the 6,000-person warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., came even as the pandemic’s effect on the economy and the election of a pro-labor president had made the country more aware of the plight of essential workers. New York Times, "Amazon Workers Vote Down Union Drive at Alabama Warehouse," 9 Apr. 2021 On the national and international levels, the order had various factions and political connections, most sensationally with the Molly Maguires, a coal-country secret society linked to pro-labor activism. Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, "Despite successful career in liquor industry, San Antonio saloonist was teetotaler, devout Catholic," 3 Apr. 2021 The PRO Act would level the playing field for such things to happen around the country, helping snuff out anti-labor practices in right-to-work states that lead to rampant misclassification and low wages—including in today’s extractive industries. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "This Is What the Beginning of a Climate-Labor Alliance Looks Like," 10 Mar. 2021 On one side is the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and its many pro-labor allies in the worlds of politics, sports and Hollywood. New York Times, "Amazon Workers’ Union Drive Reaches Far Beyond Alabama," 2 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for labor

Time Traveler

The first known use of labor was in the 14th century

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Statistics for labor

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Labor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/labor. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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.

Choose the Right Synonym for labor

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.

labor

noun
la·​bor
variants: or British labour \ ˈlā-​bər How to pronounce labor (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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Comments on labor

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