1

labor

noun la·bor \ ˈlā-bər \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of labor

1 a : 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.
4 a : 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

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.

Recent Examples of labor from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of labor

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

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

2

labor

verb

Definition of labor

labored; laboring play \ˈlā-b(ə-)riŋ\
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

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.

Recent Examples of labor from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of labor

see 1labor

labor Synonyms

Synonyms
bang away, beaver (away), dig (away), drudge, endeavor, fag, grub, hump, hustle, moil, peg (away), plod, plow, plug, slave, slog, strain, strive, struggle, sweat, toil, travail, tug, work, sweat blood
Related Words
apply (oneself), buckle (down), dig in, hammer (away), knuckle down, pitch in; attack, drive; essay, try; exercise, exert, overexert, overwork; eke out, grind (out), put out, scrabble, scratch; trudge, wade
Near Antonyms
break, ease (up), let up, slacken; bum, chill, dally, dillydally, footle, goldbrick, goof (off), hack (around), hang (around or out), idle, laze, loaf, lounge, shirk, slack (off), veg out; bask, loll, relax, repose, rest, unwind; dabble, doodle, fool around, fribble, goof (around), hang, hang about [British], mess around, monkey (around), play, potter (around), putter (around), trifle

3

labor

adjective

Definition of labor

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

Origin and Etymology of labor

see 1labor



LABOR Defined for English Language Learners

labor

noun

Definition of labor for English Language Learners

  • : physical or mental effort

  • : work for which someone is paid

  • : workers considered as a group


labor

verb

Definition of labor for English Language Learners

  • : to do work

  • : to work hard in order to achieve something

  • : to move or proceed with effort


LABOR Defined for Kids

1

labor

noun la·bor \ ˈlā-bər \

Definition of labor for Students

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

Synonym Discussion of labor

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.

2

labor

verb

Definition of labor for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

1

labor

noun la·bor
variants: or British labour play \ˈlā-bər\

medical Definition of labor

: 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

2

labor

intransitive verb
variants: or British labour

medical Definition of labor

: to be in the labor of giving birth


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