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

Its massive reduction has adversely affected the livelihoods of more than 40 million people in Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon that depend on it. Abigail Higgins, Vox, "10 ways the world is most likely to end, explained by scientists," 18 Oct. 2018 Critics said the vote heralded the death of the internet, while supporters congratulated themselves for saving the livelihoods of starving artists and giving US tech giants a poke in the eye. James Vincent, The Verge, "Everything you need to know about Europe’s new copyright directive," 13 Sep. 2018 From the Americas, to Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, and Oceania, Europeans wreaked havoc on livelihoods for their own capital gain. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "Megyn Kelly's "Blackface" Comments Reveal a Larger Truth About Appropriation," 30 Oct. 2018 Fearmongering of the loss of livelihood has caused many to engage in vitriolic rhetoric against anyone who is perceived as a threat. Anonymous, Vox, "I’m a bartender. I depend on tips. It’s a terrible way to make a living.," 18 Sep. 2018 Many North Koreans now rely on markets more than the state for their livelihoods, the researchers said, basing their assessment on conversations with North Koreans inside and outside the country. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, "North Korea’s ‘Money Masters’ Hold Keys to Kim’s Economic Revival," 26 Aug. 2018 Arslanovski says the tip was meant for his waitress, and that money is part of her livelihood, FOX4 reported. Fox News, "Restaurant calls out young girl on Facebook for stealing tip," 18 July 2018 Playing for your livelihood has a funny way of sapping the joy out of it. Daniel Rapaport,, "John Peterson Is Giving Golf One Last Shot," 6 June 2018 Traditional hunters, who rely on hunting with dog teams on ice for their livelihood, have been hard hit. Lidia Jean Kott, USA TODAY, "Fishermen in Greenland are doing better than ever. That might be thanks to climate change.," 31 Jan. 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

14 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on livelihood

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with livelihood

Spanish Central: Translation of livelihood

Nglish: Translation of livelihood for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of livelihood for Arabic Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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