noun oc·cu·pa·tion \ ˌä-kyə-ˈpā-shən \
|Updated on: 12 Aug 2018

Definition of occupation

1 a : an activity in which one engages
  • Pursuing pleasure has been his major occupation.
b : the principal business of one's life : vocation
  • Teaching was her occupation.
2 a : the possession, use, or settlement of land : occupancy
  • the last of the historic private houses in the metropolis … still in the occupation of its hereditary owner
  • Sidney (Australia) Bull.
b : the holding of an office or position
  • it is only … the occupation … of two offices at the same time that offends public policy
  • —W. D. Miller
3 a : the act or process of taking possession of a place or area : seizure
  • Spain's occupation of the island
b : the holding and control of an area by a foreign military force
  • the Roman occupation of Britain
c : the military force occupying a country or the policies carried out by it
  • The occupation addressed the concerns of the local population.


play \ˌä-kyə-ˈpā-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl\ adjective



Examples of occupation in a Sentence

  1. He is thinking about changing occupations and becoming a police officer.

  2. “What's your occupation?” “I'm a stay-at-home mom.”

  3. Swimming was their main occupation at summer camp.

  4. Some evidence of human occupation was found in these caves.

  5. The offices are ready for occupation.

Recent Examples of occupation from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of occupation

Middle English occupacioun, from Anglo-French occupaciun, from Latin occupation-, occupatio, from occupare

Synonym Discussion of occupation

work, employment, occupation, calling, pursuit, métier, business mean a specific sustained activity engaged in especially in earning one's living. work may apply to any purposeful activity whether remunerative or not.
    • her work as a hospital volunteer
employment implies work for which one has been engaged and is being paid by an employer.
    • your employment with this firm is hereby terminated
occupation implies work in which one engages regularly especially as a result of training.
    • his occupation as a trained auto mechanic
calling applies to an occupation viewed as a vocation or profession.
    • the ministry seemed my true calling
pursuit suggests a trade, profession, or avocation followed with zeal or steady interest.
    • her family considered medicine the only proper pursuit
métier implies a calling or pursuit for which one believes oneself to be especially fitted.
    • acting was my one and only métier
business suggests activity in commerce or the management of money and affairs.
    • the business of managing a hotel

OCCUPATION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of occupation for English Language Learners

  • : the work that a person does : a person's job or profession

  • : an activity that a person spends time doing

  • : the activity of living in or using a particular place

OCCUPATION Defined for Kids


noun oc·cu·pa·tion \ ˌä-kyə-ˈpā-shən \

Definition of occupation for Students

1 : a person's business or profession
  • His uncle was a tailor by occupation.
2 : the act of using or taking possession and control of a place
  • Human occupation of this area began thousands of years ago.

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