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

The Office’’ is headed to Boston in November, attempting to wring laughs from the travails of the misfits at Dunder Mifflin (who were plenty funny to begin with). Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, "Musical parody of ‘The Office’ headed to Boston," 4 Sep. 2019 The Light Phone promised a reprieve from the travails of modern technology, if only temporarily. Wired, "The Bare-Bones Light Phone Will Set You Free," 4 Sep. 2019 Mill has spoken openly about how hard that experience was for him, but his travails didn’t go unnoticed. Christian Holub, EW.com, "Meek Mill pleads guilty to misdemeanor charge, won't serve additional prison time," 27 Aug. 2019 His legal travails continued for a while, until he was finally let go in one case: his jail term was reduced to time served and he was asked to pay bail. Abeer Kapoor, Quartz India, "The fascinating story of an American smuggler’s daring escapades in 1960s India," 19 June 2019 Prince produced and directed this innovative, revue-like musical that followed the travails of Bobby, a perpetual New York bachelor ever searching for the right woman. Mark Kennedy, azcentral, "Harold Prince, Broadway legend who steered groundbreaking shows like 'Evita,' has died," 31 July 2019 Prince produced and directed this innovative, revue-like musical that followed the travails of Bobby, a perpetual New York bachelor ever searching for the right woman. Mark Kennedy, USA TODAY, "Hal Prince, titan of Broadway as director and producer, has died at 91," 31 July 2019 Prince produced and directed this innovative, revue-like musical that followed the travails of Bobby, a perpetual New York bachelor ever searching for the right woman. cleveland.com, "Broadway director and producer Hal Prince dead," 31 July 2019 Prince produced and directed this innovative, revue-like musical that followed the travails of Bobby, a perpetual New York bachelor ever searching for the right woman. CBS News, "Hal Prince, Broadway legend behind "Phantom" and "Sweeney Todd," has died at 91," 31 July 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

17 Sep 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

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