from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting; work. See Synonyms at work.
  • n. Something produced by work.
  • n. A specific task.
  • n. A particular form of work or method of working: manual labor.
  • n. Work for wages.
  • n. Workers considered as a group.
  • n. The trade union movement, especially its officials.
  • n. A political party representing workers' interests, especially in Great Britain.
  • n. The process by which childbirth occurs, beginning with contractions of the uterus and ending with the expulsion of the fetus or infant and the placenta.
  • intransitive v. To work; toil: labored in the fields.
  • intransitive v. To strive painstakingly: labored over the needlepoint.
  • intransitive v. To proceed with great effort; plod: labored up the hill.
  • intransitive v. Nautical To pitch and roll.
  • intransitive v. To suffer from distress or a disadvantage: labored under the misconception that others were cooperating.
  • intransitive v. To undergo the efforts of childbirth.
  • transitive v. To deal with in exhaustive or excessive detail; belabor: labor a point in the argument.
  • transitive v. To distress; burden: I will not labor you with trivial matters.
  • adj. Of or relating to labor.
  • adj. Of or relating to a Labor Party.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative form of labour.
  • v. Alternative form of labour.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Physical toil or bodily exertion, especially when fatiguing, irksome, or unavoidable, in distinction from sportive exercise; hard, muscular effort directed to some useful end, as agriculture, manufactures, and like; servile toil; exertion; work.
  • n. Intellectual exertion; mental effort.
  • n. That which requires hard work for its accomplishment; that which demands effort.
  • n. Travail; the pangs and efforts of childbirth.
  • n. Any pang or distress.
  • n. The pitching or tossing of a vessel which results in the straining of timbers and rigging.
  • n. A measure of land in Mexico and Texas, equivalent to an area of 1771/7 acres.
  • n. A stope or set of stopes.
  • intransitive v. To exert muscular strength; to exert one's strength with painful effort, particularly in servile occupations; to work; to toil.
  • intransitive v. To exert one's powers of mind in the prosecution of any design; to strive; to take pains.
  • intransitive v. To be oppressed with difficulties or disease; to do one's work under conditions which make it especially hard, wearisome; to move slowly, as against opposition, or under a burden; to be burdened; -- often with under, and formerly with of.
  • intransitive v. To be in travail; to suffer the pangs of childbirth; to be in labor.
  • intransitive v. To pitch or roll heavily, as a ship in a turbulent sea.
  • transitive v. To work at; to work; to till; to cultivate by toil.
  • transitive v. To form or fabricate with toil, exertion, or care.
  • transitive v. To prosecute, or perfect, with effort; to urge strenuously.
  • transitive v. To belabor; to beat.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make a physical or mental effort to accomplish some end; exert the powers of body or mind for the attainment of some result; work; strive. The word often implies painful or strenuous effort.
  • Specifically, to exert the muscular power of the body for the attainment of some end; engage in physical or manual toil.
  • To be burdened; be oppressed with difficulties; proceed or act with difficulty: used absolutely, or followed by under or (formerly) of.
  • To suffer the pangs of childbirth; be in travail.
  • To move forward heavily and with difficulty; specifically, of a ship, to roll and pitch heavily in a seaway, or in such a manner as to bring a dangerous strain upon the masts, rigging, and hull.
  • Synonyms To struggle, plod, drudge, slave, suffer.
  • To cause to work; exercise.
  • To work at; specifically, to till; cultivate.
  • To produce by labor; make or work out with effort; expend labor on; strive for.
  • To urge; labor with.
  • To beat; belabor.
  • n. Work done by a human being or an animal; exertion of body or mind, or both, for the accomplishment of an end; effort made to attain useful results, in distinction from exercise for the sake of recreation or amusement.
  • n. Specifically, bodily toil; physical exertion for the sake of gain or reward; the use of muscular strength for the satisfaction of wants, in distinction from purely mental exertion and from the productive use of capital.
  • n. Work done or to be done; that which requires exertion or effort; a work; a performance; an achievement: as, the twelve labors of Hercules.
  • n. The laboring class; productive work as represented by those devoted to it: as, the claims or rights of labor; the labor -market.
  • n. The pangs and efforts of childbirth; parturition; travail.
  • n. (Sp. pron. lä-bōr′ ). In the quicksilver-mines of California, any place where work has been or is going on; especially, in the plural, those parts of the mine from which ore is being extracted in some quantity; workings.
  • n. Synonyms Toil, Drudgery, etc. (see work); effort, pains.
  • n. A Mexican land-measure, equal to 177 acres.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. undergo the efforts of childbirth
  • n. an organized attempt by workers to improve their status by united action (particularly via labor unions) or the leaders of this movement
  • v. strive and make an effort to reach a goal
  • n. a social class comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages
  • n. productive work (especially physical work done for wages)
  • n. the federal department responsible for promoting the working conditions of wage earners in the United States; created in 1913
  • n. any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted
  • v. work hard
  • n. concluding state of pregnancy; from the onset of contractions to the birth of a child
  • n. a political party formed in Great Britain in 1900; characterized by the promotion of labor's interests and formerly the socialization of key industries


Middle English, from Old French labour, from Latin labor.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • A scientific and technological revolution, which continues at an accelerating pace, has already largely accomplished the substitution of knowledge for physical labor as the principal force of production, and we live in the conditions which Marx, over a century ago, saw as the final outcome of capitalist production: 'The process of production has ceased to be a process of labor….

    Machines Without a Cause

  • Such labor and diligence also is required in them that rule, whilst they are charged to rule _with diligence_, Rom.xii. 8, which is as much as _with labor_: yea, the common charity of Christians hath its labor; and this very word

    The Divine Right of Church Government by Sundry Ministers Of Christ Within The City Of London

  • It is to be noted, that the apostle saith not, "Let the presbyters that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially because they labor in the word -- for then he should have pointed at the distinct offices of ministers;" but he saith, _especially they that labor_, which clearly carries the sense to the distinction of elders themselves, who have distinct employments.

    The Divine Right of Church Government by Sundry Ministers Of Christ Within The City Of London

  • You charge upon abolitionists "_the purpose to create a pinching competition between black labor and white labor;" and add, that "on the supposition of abolition the black class, migrating into the free states, would enter into competition with the white class, diminishing the wages of their labor_."

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus

  • Barbarians in old times, who knew nothing noble nor grand but war, despised labor, and left it to their slaves; so much so, that the name _servile labor_, _i. e._ the labor of slaves, has stuck to it in some places.

    The History of a Mouthful of Bread And its effect on the organization of men and animals

  • Since you have laid claim to the _right to profit_, I claim the _right to labor_, or to the instruments of labor.

    Sophisms of the Protectionists

  • Countries therefore which do not enjoy these advantages, must gain by commerce with those which do; because the exchanges of commerce are between _labor and labor_; subtraction being made of all the natural advantages which are combined with these labors; and it is evidently the most favored countries which can incorporate into a given labor the largest proportion of these _natural advantages_.

    Sophisms of the Protectionists

  • Countries, therefore, which do not enjoy these advantages, must gain by commerce with those which do; because the exchanges of commerce are between _labor and labor_, subtraction being made of all the natural advantages which are combined with these labors; and it is evidently the most favored countries which can incorporate into a given labor the largest proportion of these

    What Is Free Trade? An Adaptation of Frederic Bastiat's "Sophismes Éconimiques" Designed for the American Reader

  • The agriculture of these regions, as before observed, is a sort of commerce; and it is a species of employment in which labor seems to form an inconsiderable ingredient in the productive causes, since the portion of white labor is exceedingly small, and slave labor is rather more like profit on stock or capital than _labor_ properly so called.

    Select Speeches of Daniel Webster, 1817-1845

  • The second aspect of this problem is that, as a worker, you don't sell the results of your labor, you sell your _labor power_ (workers, or would-be workers, are people who don't have anything to sell than their labor power-most people haven't).

    P2P Foundation


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    May 8, 2008

  • I've got a labor on my back that needs to be looked at by a doctor -- preferably not a quack.

    May 8, 2008

  • A group of moles is called a labor.

    May 7, 2008