oc·​cu·​pa·​tion | \ ˌä-kyə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce occupation (audio) \

Definition of occupation

1a : 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.
2a : 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 ownerSidney (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
3a : 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.

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of occupation in a Sentence

He is thinking about changing occupations and becoming a police officer. “What's your occupation?” “I'm a stay-at-home mom.” Swimming was their main occupation at summer camp. Some evidence of human occupation was found in these caves. The offices are ready for occupation.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The country has a long legacy of wine making: The Romans introduced viticulture there, digging canals and planting vines during their 500-year occupation. Sarah Souli, Travel + Leisure, "The Best European Wine Regions You've Never Heard Of," 25 May 2020 An article in Wednesday editions misstated his current occupation. oregonlive, "Newspaper corrections for May 22, 2020," 21 May 2020 Of patients who have been hospitalized and reported their occupation, about 79% of those have been critical infrastructure workers, officials said. Dallas News, "423 coronavirus cases reported in federal prison outbreak in Tarrant County; Dallas reports 251 cases," 10 May 2020 The energy-exploration tensions are a reminder of the most basic European disagreement with Turkey: its occupation of the northern part of Cyprus since a 1974 invasion. Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg.com, "EU Walks Turkey Tightrope With Limited Sanctions on Drilling," 8 May 2020 At Johns Hopkins, Hosey told me, the glass windows of patients’ rooms now feature handwritten notes about their occupation or the names of their grandkids. Marion Renault, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic Is a Perfect Storm for ICU Delirium," 5 May 2020 The economy and being part of the Commission crisis-management team—those are my main occupations. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "The Coronavirus and the Future of Big Tech," 29 Apr. 2020 Wash your hands constantly, and if your occupation requires it, wear a face mask. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "Here's everything you need to know about social distancing," 21 Mar. 2020 Officials believe there may be other victims, some surviving, and Craig implored them to step forward, regardless of occupation. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, "Garden City man arrested in 2017 deaths of 2 sex workers," 15 May 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of occupation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for occupation

Middle English occupacioun "possession of land, engagement in an activity, vocation, concern," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French occupaciun, borrowed from Latin occupātiōn-, occupātiō "seizing possession, preoccupation," from occupāre "to grasp, take possession of, fill up (space, a position)" + -tiōn- -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at occupy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about occupation

Time Traveler for occupation

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for occupation

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Occupation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occupation. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for occupation


How to pronounce occupation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of occupation

: 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


oc·​cu·​pa·​tion | \ ˌä-kyə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce occupation (audio) \

Kids Definition of occupation

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on occupation

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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