em·​ploy·​ment im-ˈplȯi-mənt How to pronounce employment (audio)
: activity in which one engages or is employed
seeking gainful employment
: an instance of such activity
: the extent or degree to which a labor force is employed
Employment is high.
: the act of employing : the state of being employed
employment of a pen in sketching
Choose the Right Synonym for employment

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

laws that have encouraged the employment of women I've been looking for employment in the machine trade. The new factory should provide employment for hundreds of workers. unskilled workers trying to find paid employment She hopes to find employment as a teacher. The magazine did well during the course of her employment as editor. Employment is at an all-time high in this part of the state. The city is faced with inadequate housing and a lack of employment. See More
Recent Examples on the Web New student loan forgiveness program that will offer a maximum $3,000 annual award for each year of employment in a public school as a teacher. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, 18 Jan. 2023 Writing on Weibo, economist Ren Zeping called for immediate policies to encourage birth such as subsidies for childbirth, inclusion of fertility treatment in social insurance and better guarantees of employment for women. Christian Shepherd, Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2023 While there are benefits for workers for this emerging model of employment, there are pitfalls as well. David Weil, The Conversation, 9 Jan. 2023 In order to increase at least one area of employment for Haredim — their representation in public authorities and corporations — a university degree will no longer be a criterion for some, mostly unspecified jobs. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, 9 Jan. 2023 Federal regulators are taking aim at companies that make workers promise not to take jobs elsewhere as a condition of employment. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, 5 Jan. 2023 The rise of back-to-land, voluntary-simplicity, and communal-living experiments were all, in part, attempts to find meaning outside the structure of employment. Cal Newport, The New Yorker, 29 Dec. 2022 In addition to his unverified claims of employment at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and attendance at Baruch College and New York University, new revelations have raised further questions about his heritage and personal life. Byrick Klein, Averi Harper, ABC News, 23 Dec. 2022 That was before a major downward revision based on a quarterly census of employment. Dallas News, 23 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'employment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English employement "expenditure of funds," from emploien "to apply to a task, employ entry 1" + -ment -ment

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of employment was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near employment

Cite this Entry

“Employment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/employment. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


em·​ploy·​ment im-ˈplȯi-mənt How to pronounce employment (audio)
: use entry 1 sense 1a, purpose
also : the act of using
: the act of hiring a person for work
: the job for which one is hired : occupation
: the state of being employed
employment in the machine trade
: the relative number of persons in a labor force who are employed
employment is high

Legal Definition


: an activity or service performed for another especially for compensation or as an occupation
: the act of employing : the state of being employed

More from Merriam-Webster on employment

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?