live·li·hood | \ˈlīv-lē-ˌhu̇d \

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

Marijuana industry scrambles As the region’s politicians drew out battle lines on legalization, people in the marijuana industry were scrambling to figure out what the news might mean for their livelihoods. Mike Carter, The Seattle Times, "‘An attack on Seattle’: Washington state officials say they won’t back down on legal pot as Sessions rescinds Obama-era policy," 22 Jan. 2018 Their livelihoods are indeed under threat—but from growing wealth inequality, not from immigrants. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Give the Left a Chance," 27 June 2018 Each year is a financial risk for those whose livelihoods are coming from the farms. The Aegis, "Roller coaster ride [Editorial]," 13 July 2018 For the past two years, a group of Alaskans whose lives and livelihoods are affected by alcohol would gather to talk about it. Nathaniel Herz, Anchorage Daily News, "Here’s how a fight between bar owners, brewers and distillers sank a widely-supported overhaul of Alaska’s alcohol laws," 11 May 2018 That last notion, at least, is often expressed by farmers searching for answers in a crisis that threatens their way of life as well as their livelihood. Rick Barrett, USA TODAY, "America's Dairyland reels as low milk prices destroy family farms," 1 May 2018 Getting down to brass tacks: These kids need to be singing like their livelihood depends on it. Robbie Daw, Billboard, "'American Idol' Top 14 Give Lackluster Performances: Critic's Take," 23 Apr. 2018 Further, one of Trump’s critical bases of support lies in the American farm belt, which depends on access to the Chinese market for its livelihood. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "After Trump’s New Tariff Threat, China Seeks Strategy for Retaliation," 11 July 2018 This balancing act weighs in favor of practices that put short-term, piece-meal decision-making at odds with long-term sustainability of our livelihoods as Floridians. miamiherald, "Leigh-Ann Buchanan," 30 June 2018

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.

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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

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Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

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

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English Language Learners Definition of livelihood

: a way of earning money in order to live


live·li·hood | \ˈlīv-lē-ˌhu̇d \

Kids Definition of livelihood

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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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