travail

noun
tra·​vail | \ trə-ˈvāl How to pronounce travail (audio) , ˈtra-ˌvāl\

Definition of travail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : work especially of a painful or laborious nature : toil
b : a physical or mental exertion or piece of work : task, effort
c : agony, torment

travail

verb
tra·​vail | \ trə-ˈvāl How to pronounce travail (audio) , ˈtra-ˌvāl; in prayer-​book communion service usually ˈtra-ˌvāl\
travailed; travailing; travails

Definition of travail (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to labor hard : toil

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Choose the Right Synonym for travail

Noun

work, labor, travail, toil, drudgery, grind mean activity involving effort or exertion. work may imply activity of body, of mind, of a machine, or of a natural force. too tired to do any work labor applies to physical or intellectual work involving great and often strenuous exertion. farmers demanding fair compensation for their labor travail is bookish for labor involving pain or suffering. years of travail were lost when the house burned toil implies prolonged and fatiguing labor. his lot would be years of back-breaking toil drudgery suggests dull and irksome labor. an editorial job with a good deal of drudgery grind implies labor exhausting to mind or body. the grind of the assembly line

Did You Know?

Noun

Etymologists are pretty certain that travail comes from trepalium, the Late Latin name of an instrument of torture. We don't know exactly what a trepalium looked like, but the word's history gives us an idea. Trepalium is derived from the Latin tripalis, which means "having three stakes" (from tri-, meaning "three," and palus, meaning "stake"). From trepalium sprang the Anglo-French verb travailler, which originally meant "to torment" but eventually acquired the milder senses "to trouble" and "to journey." The Anglo-French noun travail was borrowed into English in the 13th century, followed about a century later by travel, another descendant of travailler.

Examples of travail in a Sentence

Noun

They finally succeeded after many months of travail. no greater travail than that of parents who have suffered the death of a child

Verb

Labor Day is the day on which we recognize those men and women who daily travail with little appreciation or compensation.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Get our daily newsletter These legal travails could bring to an end an odd exception to India’s localism. The Economist, "The Big Four may be blocked from doing Indian audits for years to come," 28 June 2019 Though worlds apart, Patsy and her daughter face struggles that similarly juxtapose harsh social context and travails of the heart. Adrienne Green, The Atlantic, "The Costs of Going After Love," 7 June 2019 The new issue, #193, will be the last in the TV franchise-inspiring undead saga, which tracked the travails of Rick Grimes and his son Carl in a zombie apocalypse. Clark Collis, EW.com, "The Walking Dead comic unexpectedly ending with latest issue," 2 July 2019 Get our daily newsletter A keen interest in the travails of Everyman has defined his television career, too. The Economist, "Modern British television has found its Dickens," 29 June 2019 Its Jordanian director, Tima Shomali, says the series, with its focus on the travails of young Arab women, strives to push cultural boundaries and spark conversations in her country. Isabel Debre, Fortune, "Netflix's First Original Arabic Series, 'Jinn,' Stirs Up Outrage in Jordan," 21 June 2019 Its Jordanian director, Tima Shomali, says the series, with its focus on the travails of young Arab women, strives to push cultural boundaries and spark conversations in her country. Washington Post, "Netflix’s first Arabic original sparks backlash on home turf," 19 June 2019 June, forever our guide through the travails of Gilead. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "The Handmaid's Tale," 6 June 2019 Ashley Shade is all too familiar with the travails of central Pennsylvania. Quanta Magazine, "Heat-Loving Microbes, Once Dormant, Thrive Over Decades-Old Fire," 16 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'travail.' 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 travail

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for travail

Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from travailler to torment, labor, journey, from Vulgar Latin *trepaliare to torture, from Late Latin trepalium instrument of torture, from Latin tripalis having three stakes, from tri- + palus stake — more at pole

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Dictionary Entries near travail

traumatropic

traumatropism

trav

travail

Travancore

travated

trave

Statistics for travail

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for travail

The first known use of travail was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for travail

travail

noun

English Language Learners Definition of travail

formal : a difficult experience or situation
literary : painful or difficult work or effort

travail

noun
tra·​vail | \ trə-ˈvā(ə)l How to pronounce travail (audio) , ˈtrav-ˌāl How to pronounce travail (audio) \

Medical Definition of travail

More from Merriam-Webster on travail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with travail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for travail

Comments on travail

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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