Synonyms & Antonyms of labor

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 a dull, unpleasant, or difficult piece of work
  • one of the labors of Hercules in classical mythology was to clean out the stables of King Augeas

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2 the active use of energy in producing a result
  • a superhuman amount of labor must have gone into designing and building the pyramids of Egypt

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3 very hard or unpleasant work
  • a political dissident forced to do six months of hard labor in the salt mines as punishment

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Antonyms for labor

4 the act or process of giving birth to children
  • the mother's labor lasted for six hours

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5 something produced by physical or intellectual effort
  • a small, personal film that was clearly a labor of love for the director and actors

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Synonyms & Antonyms of labor (Entry 2 of 2)

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Frequently Asked Questions About labor

How does the noun labor contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of labor are drudgery, grind, toil, travail, and work. While all these words mean "activity involving effort or exertion," labor applies to physical or intellectual work involving great and often strenuous exertion.

farmers demanding fair compensation for their labor

Where would drudgery be a reasonable alternative to labor?

The words drudgery and labor can be used in similar contexts, but drudgery suggests dull and irksome labor.

an editorial job with a good deal of drudgery

When is it sensible to use grind instead of labor?

The words grind and labor are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, grind implies labor exhausting to mind or body.

the grind of the assembly line

When might toil be a better fit than labor?

The synonyms toil and labor are sometimes interchangeable, but toil implies prolonged and fatiguing labor.

his lot would be years of back-breaking toil

When could travail be used to replace labor?

While in some cases nearly identical to labor, travail is bookish for labor involving pain or suffering.

years of travail were lost when the house burned

When would work be a good substitute for labor?

Although the words work and labor have much in common, work may imply activity of body, of mind, of a machine, or of a natural force.

too tired to do any work

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Time Traveler for labor

Time Traveler

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

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Thesaurus Entries Near labor



labor camp

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Cite this Entry

“Labor.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on labor

Nglish: Translation of labor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of labor for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about labor


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