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 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 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

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

The groups hope to encourage more college students to stay after graduation in light of Maine’s escalating labor shortage. USA TODAY, "Animation behind bars, Elliott the elk, SkyStar: News from around our 50 states," 10 Sep. 2019 The China Labor Watch report placed some of the blame on the Chinese government for turning a blind eye to labor violations. Washington Post, "Apple accused of worker violations in Chinese factories," 10 Sep. 2019 The population took root when Japanese immigrants began arriving in 1908, a solution to a labor shortage on Sao Paulo coffee plantations after Brazil finally abolished slavery in 1888. Jill Langlois, Los Angeles Times, "In Brazil, land of beaches and samba, a sumo wrestling academy thrives," 10 Sep. 2019 Apple and Foxconn violated a Chinese labor rule by using too many temporary staff at a major factory that makes iPhones. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple, Foxconn caught breaking Chinese labor laws while making iPhones," 9 Sep. 2019 The chairwoman of the Baltimore City Council’s labor committee wants to stop testing candidates for many city jobs for marijuana use. Baltimore Sun Staff, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore City Council to consider banning marijuana testing of candidates for many city government jobs," 9 Sep. 2019 There is a long-standing relationship between Kaiser and labor that has benefitted the community. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "Kaiser Permanente Colorado, now 50, facing mid-life struggles," 8 Sep. 2019 That sector added about 200 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the same time the year prior, and more than 400 jobs in the first quarter of this year, according to labor department figures. Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage employment is taking longer to rebound from recession than Alaska as a whole," 8 Sep. 2019 Control is obviously a labor of love from Twin Peaks junkies. Matthew Gault, Time, "'Control' Feels Like What Would Happen if David Lynch Made a Video Game," 5 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Transit riders traipsed down the stairs, some hauling luggage or grocery bags, while a crew labored over a broken escalator at an entrance to the Powell Street BART Station on a recent morning. Anna Bauman, SFChronicle.com, "BART kicks off $96.5 million project to replace 41 downtown escalators in 6 years," 9 Sep. 2019 This is further complicated because rather than a traditional worksite, the primary place of work is a home, with each worker laboring for a different employer at a different worksite, and often for multiple employers throughout the week. David Madland, Fortune, "A New ‘Bill of Rights’ for Domestic Workers Will Let Them Finally Bargain Collectively," 19 July 2019 The Copenhagen’s crew of 26, along with local helpers, labored for days to remove its cargo of coal. John Christopher Fine, sun-sentinel.com, "SS Copenhagen shipwreck home to picture-perfect artificial reef," 18 July 2019 Even after two-and-a-half years of Trump's governing style, the spectacle of a president laboring to head off a House vote essentially proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary. Dallas News, "Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd joins Democrats in vote to condemn Trump's tweets as racist," 16 July 2019 Since the attack, IT teams have been laboring to restore services. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore expected to begin issuing water bills again this week, three months after ransomware struck," 5 Aug. 2019 Even after two and a half years of Trump's turbulent governing style, the spectacle of a president futilely laboring to head off a House vote essentially proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary. Alan Fram, Fortune, "These Are the 4 Republicans Who Voted to Condemn Trump’s Tweets," 17 July 2019 Even after two-and-a-half years of Trump's turbulent governing style, the spectacle of a president futilely laboring to head off a House vote essentially proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary. Alan Fram And Darlene Superville, Houston Chronicle, "House condemns Trump 'racist' tweets in extraordinary rebuke," 16 July 2019 Even after two-and-a-half years of Trump’s turbulent governing style, the spectacle of a president futilely laboring to head off a House vote essentially proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary. Darlene Superville, Twin Cities, "House condemns Trump ‘racist’ tweets in extraordinary rebuke," 16 July 2019

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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Statistics for labor

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for labor

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

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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

Comments on labor

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