If you’ve had to bust your behind, burn the midnight oil, and shed blood, sweat, and tears to get where you are today, you could say you’ve endured significant travail. In other words, back-breakingly hard mental exertion or physical labor.

Travail comes to us from a sinister Latin word: trepalium, meaning “instrument of torture.” The closest English word is probably toil, though travail means you’re not just exerting monumental effort but suffering as you do so. If your life has been hard-knock enough to be the stuff of old blues songs or Shakespearean tragedies, you’ve had your share of travails. In French, incidentally, travail simply means "work." The Spanish trabajo, "work," is closely related.

Primary Meanings of travail

use of physical or mental energy; hard work
work hard
concluding state of pregnancy; from the onset of contractions to the birth of a child
Full Definitions of travail

n use of physical or mental energy; hard work

effort, elbow grease, exertion, sweat
show 31 types...
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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
detrition, friction, rubbing
effort expended in moving one object over another with pressure
the act of rubbing together; wearing something down by friction
cardiopulmonary exercise
exercise intended to strengthen the circulatory system
gymnastic exercise
(gymnastics) an exercise designed to develop and display strength and agility and balance (usually performed with or on some gymnastic apparatus)
kick up
raising the feet backward with the hands on the ground; a first movement in doing a handstand
grapple, grappling, hand-to-hand struggle, wrestle, wrestling
the act of engaging in close hand-to-hand combat
the devil
something difficult or awkward to do or deal with
(Yiddish) aggravating trouble
exercise set, set
several exercises intended to be done in series
anaerobic exercise, bodybuilding, muscle building, musclebuilding
exercise that builds muscles through tension
calisthenics, callisthenics
light exercises designed to promote general fitness
isometric exercise, isometrics
muscle-building exercises (or a system of musclebuilding exercises) involving muscular contractions against resistance without movement (the muscles contracts but the length of the muscle does not change)
isotonic exercise
exercise in which opposing muscles contract and there is controlled movement (tension is constant while the lengths of the muscles change)
Kegel exercises, pubococcygeus exercises
exercises for women designed to improve the ability to hold urine
stretch, stretching
exercise designed to extend the limbs and muscles to their full extent
arm exercise
exercise designed to strengthen the arm muscles
back exercise
exercise designed to strengthen the back muscles
leg exercise
exercise designed to strengthen the leg muscles
neck exercise
exercise designed to strengthen the neck muscles
stomach exercise, tummy crunch
an exercise designed to strengthen the abdominal muscles
a system of exercises practiced as part of the Hindu discipline to promote control of the body and mind
Type of:
labor, labour, toil
productive work (especially physical work done for wages)

v work hard

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

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

childbed, confinement, labor, labour, lying-in, parturiency
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

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