productive activity, especially for the sake of economic gain.
the body of persons engaged in such activity, especially those working for wages.
this body of persons considered as a class (distinguished from and ).
physical or mental work, especially of a hard or fatiguing kind; toil.
a job or task done or to be done.
the physical effort and periodic uterine contractions of childbirth.
the interval from the onset of these contractions to childbirth.
(initial capital letter). Also called Labor Department. Informal. the Department of Labor.
to perform labor; exert one’s powers of body or mind; work; toil.
to strive, as toward a goal; work hard (often followed by for):
to labor for peace.
to act, behave, or function at a disadvantage (usually followed by under):
to labor under a misapprehension.
to be in the actual process of giving birth.
to roll or pitch heavily, as a ship.
to develop or dwell on in excessive detail:
Don’t labor the point.
to burden or tire:
to labor the reader with unnecessary detail.
British Dialect. to work or till (soil or the like).
of or relating to workers, their associations, or working conditions:
labor reforms.
Contemporary Examples

The Conservatives would not accept such a suicidal reform, but labour might well.
Britain’s Bloody Mess Andrew Roberts May 6, 2010

Since then, Miliband has grown in confidence and stature, and the labour Party has continued to rise in the opinion polls.
Will the Leveson Report Be David Cameron’s Downfall? Peter Jukes November 27, 2012

As it now stands, all polling data point to a defeat for Brown and his once-mighty labour Party.
The War Over the Global Stimulus Stryker McGuire March 12, 2009

Both took degrees in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Oxford, and both graduated fairly swiftly into labour Party jobs.
Brit Brothers Battle for Labour Peter Hoskin July 9, 2010

According to the labour minister Peter Mandelson, Thatcher told him that the Irish were ‘all liars’.
Thatcher’s Grudging Respect For IRA Hunger Strikers Revealed Tom Sykes April 22, 2013

Historical Examples

To the end of his life Lucas continued to labour at the reorganisation of the Unity.
A History of Bohemian Literature Count Ltzow

To serve your friend would have been, I deemed, a labour of love.
Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, No. 327 Various

To till the soil and labour interminably was all he asked of life and the powers that be.
The Strength of the Strong Jack London

Every thought was bent to attain the end, no labour was deemed to arduous.
The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook

We will all labour for you, my dear mother; and you shall never feel any wants with us.’
Paul and Virginia Bernadin de Saint-Pierre

productive work, esp physical toil done for wages

the people, class, or workers involved in this, esp in contrast to management, capital, etc
(as modifier): a labour dispute, labour relations

difficult or arduous work or effort
(in combination): labour-saving

a particular job or task, esp of a difficult nature

the process or effort of childbirth or the time during which this takes place
(as modifier): labour pains

labour of love, something done for pleasure rather than gain
(intransitive) to perform labour; work
(intransitive; foll by for, etc) to strive or work hard (for something)
(intransitive) usually foll by under. to be burdened (by) or be at a disadvantage (because of): to labour under a misapprehension
(intransitive) to make one’s way with difficulty
(transitive) to deal with or treat too persistently: to labour a point
(intransitive) (of a woman) to be in labour
(intransitive) (of a ship) to pitch and toss
verb, noun
the US spelling of labour

chiefly British English spelling of labor (q.v.); for spelling, see -or. As short for “the British Labour Party” it is from 1906.

c.1300, “a task, a project;” later “exertion of the body; trouble, difficulty, hardship” (late 14c.), from Old French labor “labor, toil, work, exertion, task” (12c., Modern French labeur), from Latin laborem (nominative labor) “labor, toil, exertion; hardship, pain, fatigue; a work, a product of labor,” of uncertain origin, perhaps originally from the notion of “tottering under a burden,” and related to labere “to totter.”

Meaning “body of laborers considered as a class” (usually contrasted to capitalists) is from 1839. Sense of “physical exertions of childbirth” is 1590s, earlier labour of birthe (early 15c.), a sense also found in Old French, and cf. French en travail “in (childbirth) suffering” (see travail). Labor Day first marked 1882 in New York City.

late 14c., “perform manual or physical work; work hard; keep busy; take pains, strive, endeavor” (also “copulate”), from Old French laborer “work, toil; struggle, have difficulty,” from Latin laborare, from labor (see labor (n.)). The verb in modern French, Spanish, Portuguese means “to plow;” the wider sense being taken by the equivalent of English travail. Sense of “to endure pain, suffer” is early 15c., especially in phrase labor of child. Related: Labored; laboring.

labor la·bor (lā’bər)
The physical efforts of expulsion of the fetus and the placenta from the uterus during parturition. v. la·bored, la·bor·ing, la·bors
To undergo the efforts of childbirth.
The process by which the birth of a mammal occurs, beginning with contractions of the uterus and ending with the expulsion of the fetus and the placenta.

The physical processes at the end of a normal pregnancy, including opening of the cervix and contractions of the uterus, that lead to the birth of the baby.

Related Terms

grunt work


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