Although the word labor seems to suggest tough, physical work that makes you sweat, any type of work, whether physical or mental, can be considered labor.

Labor is usually associated with very hard, physical work, suggesting fatigue and aching muscles. In fact, a woman giving birth is said to be in labor, giving true meaning to the phrase "labor of love." The word can also be used as a verb, as in "He had to labor many years to pay off his debt." That sense of hard work fits in with the Labor Party of some nations, a party generally favored by and supporting the working class.

Primary Meanings of labor

any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted
strive and make an effort to reach a goal
concluding state of pregnancy; from the onset of contractions to the birth of a child
undergo the efforts of childbirth
Full Definitions of labor

n any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted

project, task, undertaking
Manhattan Project
code name for the secret United States project set up in 1942 to develop atomic bombs for use in World War II
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breeze, child's play, cinch, duck soup, picnic, piece of cake, pushover, snap, walkover
any undertaking that is easy to do
adventure, dangerous undertaking, escapade, risky venture
a wild and exciting undertaking (not necessarily lawful)
an undertaking that you have been assigned to do (as by an instructor)
a project of personal concern to someone
endeavor, endeavour, enterprise
a purposeful or industrious undertaking (especially one that requires effort or boldness)
labor of love, labour of love
productive work performed voluntarily without material reward or compensation
endurance contest, marathon
any long and arduous undertaking
anything that requires little thought
a task to be dealt with
large order, tall order
a formidable task or requirement
any venturesome undertaking especially one with an uncertain outcome
an easy task
school assignment, schoolwork
a school task performed by a student to satisfy the teacher
fraudulent scheme, illegitimate enterprise, racket
an illegal enterprise (such as extortion or fraud or drug peddling or prostitution) carried on for profit
joint venture
a venture by a partnership or conglomerate designed to share risk or expertise
a venture at something new or different
forlorn hope
a hopeless or desperate enterprise
writing assignment, written assignment
an assignment to write something
campaign, cause, crusade, drive, effort, movement
a series of actions advancing a principle or tending toward a particular end
sally, sallying forth
a venture off the beaten path
danger, peril, risk
a venture undertaken without regard to possible loss or injury
business activity, commercial activity
activity undertaken as part of a commercial enterprise
Type of:
activity directed toward making or doing something

n productive work (especially physical work done for wages)

“his labor did not require a great deal of skill”
labour, toil
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capturing cattle or horses with a lasso
unpaid labor (as for the maintenance of roads) required by a lord of his vassals in lieu of taxes
donkeywork, drudgery, grind, plodding
hard monotonous routine work
effort, elbow grease, exertion, sweat, travail
use of physical or mental energy; hard work
hunt, hunting
the work of finding and killing or capturing animals for food or pelts
professional work done according to formula
cutting grass and curing it to make hay
manual labor, manual labour
labor done with the hands
overwork, overworking
the act of working too much or too long
work done under harsh conditions for little or no pay
calf roping
capturing a calf with a lasso and binding its feet
steer roping
capturing a steer with a lasso
canned hunt
a hunt for animals that have been raised on game ranches until they are mature enough to be killed for trophy collections
strenuous effort
difficulty, trouble
an effort that is inconvenient
least effort, least resistance
the least effortful way to do something
strain, straining
an intense or violent exertion
exercise, exercising, physical exercise, physical exertion, workout
the activity of exerting your muscles in various ways to keep fit
a sustained effort
application, diligence
a diligent effort
any effort that seems to go farther than would be necessary to achieve its goal
an effort above and beyond the call of duty
excessive exertion; so much exertion that discomfort or injury results
stalk, stalking, still hunt
a hunt for game carried on by following it stealthily or waiting in ambush
hunting for birds' nests to get the eggs
the act of preying by a predator who kills and eats the prey
detrition, friction, rubbing
effort expended in moving one object over another with pressure
application, coating, covering
the work of applying something
the work of making or repairing vehicle bodies
manual (or mechanical) carrying or moving or delivering or working with something
the act of picking (crops or fruit or hops etc.)
the work of covering an area with planks
the work of installing the wires for an electrical system or device
Type of:
activity directed toward making or doing something

n an organized attempt by workers to improve their status by united action (particularly via labor unions) or the leaders of this movement

labor movement, trade union movement
I.W.W., IWW, Industrial Workers of the World
a former international labor union and radical labor movement in the United States; founded in Chicago in 1905 and dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism; its membership declined after World War I
trade unionism, unionism
the system or principles and theory of labor unions
Type of:
reform movement
a movement intended to bring about social and humanitarian reforms

n a social class comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages

“there is a shortage of skilled labor in this field”
labour, proletariat, working class
labor force, labor pool
the source of trained people from which workers can be hired
(Marxism) the unorganized lower levels of the proletariat who are not interested in revolutionary advancement
organized labor
employees who are represented by a labor union
Type of:
class, social class, socio-economic class, stratum
people having the same social, economic, or educational status

v strive and make an effort to reach a goal

drive, labour, push, tug
bear on, push
press, drive, or impel (someone) to action or completion of an action
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reach, strain, strive
to exert much effort or energy
extend oneself
strain to the utmost
kill oneself, overexert oneself
strain oneself more than is healthy
bother, inconvenience oneself, trouble, trouble oneself
take the trouble to do something; concern oneself
Type of:
fight, struggle
make a strenuous or labored effort

v work hard

dig, drudge, fag, grind, labour, moil, toil, travail
Type of:
do work, work
be employed

n concluding state of pregnancy; from the onset of contractions to the birth of a child

“she was in labor for six hours”
childbed, confinement, labour, lying-in, parturiency, travail
premature labor, premature labour
labor beginning prior to the 37th week of gestation
Type of:
birth, birthing, giving birth, parturition
the process of giving birth

v undergo the efforts of childbirth

Type of:
pass through

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