occupation

noun

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

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web In her place, the Russians installed a low-level teacher whose eagerness to work under occupation elevated her to deputy director. Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, 22 Nov. 2022 Clampdown in Cairo Last week, as world leaders assembled in Sharm el-Sheikh, Cairo resembled a city under occupation. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 Nov. 2022 His visit to the site in southern Poland, which was under German occupation during WWII, was his first and came as part of his work with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, whose mission is to fight hatred through education. Vanessa Gera, Fortune, 29 Sep. 2022 His visit to the site in southern Poland, which was under German occupation during WWII, was his first and came as part of his work with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, whose mission is to fight hatred through education. Arkansas Online, 29 Sep. 2022 His visit to the site in southern Poland, which was under German occupation during WWII, was his first and came as part of his work with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, whose mission is to fight hatred through education. Vanessa Gera And Rafal Niedzielski, USA TODAY, 29 Sep. 2022 The West Bank, which has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967, is simmering. Hadas Gold And Abeer Salman, CNN, 23 Sep. 2022 Poland began distributing iodine tablets to various regional fire departments Thursday over concerns about potential radioactive exposure from a nuclear power plant under occupation by the Russians in Ukraine. Phillip Nieto, Fox News, 23 Sep. 2022 Robert Jobson’s recent Charles at Seventy claims that the King has significant sympathies for the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, for example. Time, 13 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near occupation

Cite this Entry

“Occupation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occupation. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

occupation

noun

oc·​cu·​pa·​tion ˌäk-yə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce occupation (audio)
1
: one's business or profession
2
: the taking possession and control of an area
occupation of a conquered country

More from Merriam-Webster on occupation

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