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 Decades of discriminatory practices have led to loss of land and livelihood for many Black farmers. Amanda Albee, Dallas News, 28 Apr. 2021 The Old Testament curbed these risks by forbidding God’s people from charging interest on loans to one another and by barring creditors from taking a debtor’s grinding stone—that is, his livelihood—as collateral for a loan. David Skeel, WSJ, 11 Mar. 2021 You’re being told awful news that is going to destroy your livelihood, your income, your family, your community. New York Times, 1 Mar. 2021 Gentileschi, already a promising painter, had risked her future livelihood—her precious hands—by testifying against Tassi. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 10 Jan. 2021 His livelihood, his girlfriend and bandmate (Olivia Cooke) and his identity. Lindsey Bahr, Star Tribune, 23 Nov. 2020 The question of what to do with America’s wild horses is an emotional battle over livelihood, freedoms and how humans view animals. Britta Lokting, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2020 Ask the Central Americans who had to abandon a generations-long farming livelihood and are now knocking on our nation's door about prosperity. Star Tribune, 4 July 2021 And Strack says there are ways for farmers to earn a livelihood without releasing so much carbon. Matt Simon, Wired, 21 June 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.

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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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Time Traveler for livelihood

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Livelihood.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce livelihood (audio) \

Kids Definition of livelihood


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