la·​bor | \ ˈlā-bər How to pronounce labor (audio) \

Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory was sentenced to six months at hard labor
b(1) : the services performed by workers for wages as distinguished from those rendered by entrepreneurs for profits
(2) : human activity that provides the goods or services in an economy Industry needs labor for production.
c : the physical activities (such as dilation of the cervix and contraction of the uterus) involved in giving birth also : the period of such labor
2a : an economic group comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages wants the vote of labor in the elections
b : the organizations or officials representing groups of workers negotiations between labor and management
c(1) : workers employed in an establishment
(2) : workers available for employment Immigrants provided a source of cheap labor.
3 usually Labour : the Labour party of the United Kingdom or of another part of the Commonwealth of Nations
4 : an act or process requiring labor : task The three-month project evolved into a year-long labor.
5 : a product of labor The flood destroyed the labor of years.


labored; laboring\ ˈlā-​b(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce laboring (audio) \

Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to exert one's powers of body or mind especially with painful or strenuous effort : work
2 : to move with great effort the truck labored up the hill
3 : to suffer from some disadvantage or distress labor under a delusion
4 : to be in the labor of giving birth
5 of a ship : to pitch or roll heavily

transitive verb

1 : to treat or work out in often laborious detail labor the obvious
3 : to cause to labor
4 archaic
a : to spend labor on or produce by labor
b : to strive to effect or achieve



Definition of labor (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : of or relating to labor
2 capitalized : of, relating to, or constituting a political party held to represent the interests of workers or made up largely of organized labor groups

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Choose the Right Synonym for labor


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

Examples of labor in a Sentence

Noun A day's labor should get the job done. Getting the job done will require many hours of difficult labor. He rested from his labors. The cost of repairing the car includes parts and labor. an area in which there is a shortage of cheap labor The proposed new law is opposed by organized labor. She went into labor this morning. She has been in labor for several hours. She began to have labor pains this morning. She had a difficult labor. Verb Workers labored in the vineyard. He labored for several years as a miner. She has labored in vain to convince them to accept her proposal. We should honor those who labored so long to make the truth known. The truck labored up the hill. I have been laboring through this book for months. She has a tendency to labor the obvious.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Federal statistics show that basic labor protections are hard to find in the L.A. garment industry. Sam Deanstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "The sweatshops are still open. Now they make masks," 21 Apr. 2020 At $400 each (plus labor), the switch was pricey, but their prominent placement justified the splurge. Charlotte Safavi, Better Homes & Gardens, "Clever Swaps and Budget-Friendly Fixes Add Major Impact to This 300-Square-Foot Kitchen Makeover," 21 Apr. 2020 New York Attorney General Letitia James' office has opened an inquiry into Charter's labor practices and management of employees during the pandemic, a spokesperson for James confirmed to Ars today. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Charter has 230 infected employees after resisting work-at-home requests," 21 Apr. 2020 As the coronavirus spreads in North Texas, the 45-year-old Catholic priest labors like a social worker against the deadly contagion’s spread as people cope with la cuarentena, the quarantine. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Catholic priest tends to most vulnerable in pandemic: the uninsured and unemployed," 20 Apr. 2020 Home health and personal care aides, jobs that earn little more than minimum wage and until recently were even exempt from basic labor protections, are two of the fastest growing occupations in the entire U.S. job market. Robert Gebeloff, New York Times, "How Millions of Women Became the Most Essential Workers in America," 18 Apr. 2020 Home health and personal care aides, jobs that earn little more than minimum wage and until recently were even exempt from basic labor protections, are two of the fastest growing occupations in the entire US job market. Robert Gebeloff, BostonGlobe.com, "How millions of women became the most essential workers in America," 18 Apr. 2020 Working class women were still fighting for labor protections and were concerned the ERA would threaten laws that made working conditions in factories safer. Erin Corbett, refinery29.com, "What Is The ERA? A Timeline Of The Equal Rights Amendment, From Mrs. America To Today," 15 Apr. 2020 Adding to their anxieties is the reality that domestic workers often don't receive the same labor protections extended to other workers. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "The coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic for house cleaners and nannies," 3 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Throttle response is jumpy in town and sleepy elsewhere; the engine can sound labored. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, "Compact SUV Battle: Ford vs. Honda vs. Mazda vs. Subaru vs. Toyota vs. VW," 20 Apr. 2020 Yang and his crew shot in the same sugar factory where his father and grandmother had labored for years, a chapter of his family history reflected early in the film. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘Tigertail’ director Alan Yang on making the past not ‘a memory, but a beautiful dream’," 9 Apr. 2020 Her breathing was shallow and labored, and her skin was pale, moist and hot. Tonya Alanez, sun-sentinel.com, "Deadly temperatures at Hollywood nursing home higher than paramedics had ever seen, affidavit shows," 18 Sep. 2019 The curly hair on their chests rose and fell with their labored breathing. Sandra Sidi, The Atlantic, "The Male Gaze on Steroids," 6 Sep. 2019 In the weeks since Despathy’s birth experience, hospitals across the country have adopted similarly cautious policies in an effort to protect laboring folks, healthcare providers, visitors, and new babies. Sara Gaynes Levy, SELF, "The Deep Loneliness of Having a Baby in a Pandemic," 7 Apr. 2020 The farms around Yuma produce much of the country’s lettuce and other leafy vegetables from winter until early April, and the harvest system has long involved crews of Mexican and Central American workers laboring shoulder-to-shoulder. Ian James, azcentral, "On Arizona vegetable farms, growers grapple with harvest demands and coronavirus risks," 5 Apr. 2020 Bailey never left her computer long; using a tracking function included in the design program, Waugaman calculated that Bailey has labored over the pages for a total of 395 hours and one minute. Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, "School’s closed, the year’s lost. But yearbook editors are not missing this deadline.," 3 Apr. 2020 Exposed, incapacitated, and in excruciating pain, laboring moms rely on other people—doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas, and especially their partners—for help and support. Minhae Shim Roth, Glamour, "Giving Birth During Coronavirus Is Every Woman’s Nightmare," 1 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The longer labor laws stand still, the better corporations get maneuvering around them. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Labor Board Delivers Big Blow to Fast-Food Workers," 15 Dec. 2017

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


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


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


1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for labor

Noun, Verb, and Adjective

Middle English, from Anglo-French labur, from Latin labor; perhaps akin to Latin labare to totter, labi to slip — more at sleep

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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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Statistics for labor

Last Updated

25 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Labor.” waleadership.com Dictionary2020欧洲杯滚球, Merriam-Webster, http://waleadership.com/dictionary/labor. Accessed 7 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for labor


How to pronounce labor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: physical or mental effort
: work for which someone is paid
: workers considered as a group



English Language Learners Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to do work
: to work hard in order to achieve something
: to move or proceed with effort


la·​bor | \ ˈlā-bər How to pronounce labor (audio) \

Kids Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : usually hard physical or mental effort
2 : something that has to be done : task Now a procession of ants appeared … and went about their labors— Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer
3 : work for which someone is paid The bill included parts and labor.
4 : workers considered as a group There's a shortage of skilled labor.
5 : the process by which or time during which a woman gives birth


labored; laboring

Kids Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to work hard : toil Workers labored in the field.
2 : to move slowly and with great effort The truck labored up the hill.

Choose the Right Synonym for labor


labor and work mean action involving effort or exertion. work can apply to either mental or physical effort and may involve something that is enjoyable but tiring. Decorating the gym was hard work. labor suggests great or unpleasant usually physical exertion. She dreaded the dull labor of cleaning.


variants: or British labour \ ˈlā-​bər How to pronounce labour (audio) \

Medical Definition of labor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the physical activities involved in childbirth consisting essentially of a prolonged series of involuntary contractions of the uterine musculature together with both reflex and voluntary contractions of the abdominal wall drugs that induce labor went into labor after a fall also : the period of time during which such labor takes place
variants: or British labour

Medical Definition of labor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be in the labor of giving birth

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More from Merriam-Webster on labor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for labor

Rhyming Dictionary:

Spanish Central:


Britannica English:


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