live·​li·​hood | \ ˈlīv-lē-ˌhu̇d How to pronounce livelihood (audio) \

Definition of livelihood

1 : means of support or subsistence (see subsistence sense 2) The villagers' main livelihood is fishing.
2 obsolete : the quality or state of being lively

Examples of livelihood in a Sentence

Many fishermen believe that the new regulations threaten their livelihoods.
Recent Examples on the Web People in Inle, Myanmar, live on water and search for their livelihood there. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, "Best Photos Of Food: Winners Of Food Photographer Of The Year 2021," 6 May 2021 Indigenous groups are becoming more vocal and active in policy, but there are differing opinions among these peoples—some of whom are ice-dependent for their livelihood and some of whom are not—about what development is acceptable. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, "How 1.5 Degrees Became the Key to Climate Progress," 21 Apr. 2021 The roughly 70 acres belonging to the Cavazos family hold sentimental value and provide for the family's livelihood. Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, "Federal judge rules private land on border can be seized for the wall, despite Biden's construction halt," 14 Apr. 2021 Brazil currently produces about 100 such products from native species—including timber, fruit, cassava, and cocoa—and communities in the Amazon and elsewhere rely on them for their livelihood. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Amid criticism of its conservation policies, Brazil joins global biotrade pact," 29 Mar. 2021 Almost all of Puerto Nuevo’s hundreds of residents depend on American visitors for their livelihood. Wendy Fry, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mexican migrants in the U.S. sent more money home in 2020 to keep families afloat," 10 Mar. 2021 Ali also discovers that locked in a power struggle with the federal government, the Pimicikamak are still very much an aggrieved people, their land and water — the sources of their livelihood — ruined by the dam. Angela Ajayi, Star Tribune, "Review: 'Northern Light,' by Kazim Ali," 19 Mar. 2021 Causby filed suit, claiming that the War Department had deprived him of his livelihood. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, "How Much of Your Stuff Belongs to Big Tech?," 8 Mar. 2021 No matter how your financial life has shifted, the pandemic has served as a reminder: So much of your livelihood is delicately hinged on things going well. New York Times, "Lessons From a Year of Pandemic Spending," 7 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of livelihood

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for livelihood

alteration of Middle English livelode course of life, from Old English līflād, from līf + lād course — more at lode

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about livelihood

Time Traveler for livelihood

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for livelihood

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Livelihood.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for livelihood



English Language Learners Definition of livelihood

: a way of earning money in order to live


live·​li·​hood | \ ˈlīv-lē-ˌhu̇d How to pronounce livelihood (audio) \

Kids Definition of livelihood

Comments on livelihood

What made you want to look up livelihood? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!