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[ley-ber] /ˈleɪ bər/
noun, verb (used with or without object), adjective, Chiefly British.
Related forms
antilabour, adjective
Usage note
See -or1.


[ley-ber] /ˈleɪ bər/
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 management and capital).
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.
verb (used without object)
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.
verb (used with object)
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.
Also, especially British, labour.
Origin of labor
1250-1300; Middle English labour < Middle French < Latin labōr- (stem of labor) work
Related forms
laboringly, adverb
laborless, adjective
antilabor, adjective
nonlabor, adjective
outlabor, verb (used with object)
overlabor, verb (used with object)
prelabor, noun, verb (used without object)
prolabor, adjective
unlaboring, adjective
2. working people, working class. 4. exertion. See work. 6. parturition, delivery. 9. drudge. 14. overdo.
1, 4. idleness; leisure. 1, 4, 9. rest. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for laboured
Historical Examples
  • His hollow voice and laboured breath gave the lie to his assertion.

    Afterwards Kathlyn Rhodes
  • That was the thing that, as the minutes laboured by, Faxon was becoming most conscious of.

    The Triumph Of Night Edith Wharton
  • He had urged his predecessor to permit the divorce; at Bologna he had laboured to persuade the Emperor to consent to it.

  • It's laboured breathing and glazing eye showed that it was not far from its end.

    A Study In Scarlet Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The rains had now set in, but the English laboured steadily at their batteries.

    With Clive in India G. A. Henty
  • He was very pale, and they could hear his laboured breathing.

    Columba Prosper Merimee
  • We laboured under the impression that you were to be compliant as best suits the love we have ever borne to your community.

  • Wau overtook him, and then others, and he coughed and laboured in his breath.

    Tales of Space and Time Herbert George Wells
  • It was the jealous cruelty of Pharaoh which drew down upon his country the very perils he laboured to turn away.

  • Consider that I laboured not for myself only, but for all them that seek learning.

    Familiar Quotations John Bartlett
British Dictionary definitions for laboured


(of breathing) performed with difficulty
showing effort; contrived; lacking grace or fluency
Derived Forms
labouredly, (US) laboredly, adverb
labouredness, (US) laboredness, noun


verb, noun
the US spelling of labour


productive work, esp physical toil done for wages
  1. the people, class, or workers involved in this, esp in contrast to management, capital, etc
  2. (as modifier): a labour dispute, labour relations
  1. difficult or arduous work or effort
  2. (in combination): labour-saving
a particular job or task, esp of a difficult nature
  1. the process or effort of childbirth or the time during which this takes place
  2. (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
Derived Forms
labouringly, (US) laboringly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: via Old French from Latin labor; perhaps related to lābī to fall
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for laboured



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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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laboured in Medicine

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 American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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laboured in Science
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 American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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laboured in Culture

labor definition

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.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for laboured


Related Terms

grunt work

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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