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  1. a shop employing workers at low wages, for long hours, and under poor conditions.

Origin of sweatshop

First recorded in 1865–70; sweat + shop
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sweat-shop

Historical Examples

  • Back of the sweat-shop shirt is the problem of the inefficient worker.

    The Principles of Economics

    Frank A. Fetter

  • It is the home of the sweat-shop, of the crowded tenement-house.

    The Spirit of the Ghetto

    Hutchins Hapgood

  • The only possible way to escape from the sweat-shop was to marry.

    Comrade Yetta

    Albert Edwards

  • For more than a month we've been out on strike, and now we can go back to the sweat-shop.

    Comrade Yetta

    Albert Edwards

  • It was not only the victims of the sweat-shop who find living a hard matter.

    Comrade Yetta

    Albert Edwards

British Dictionary definitions for sweat-shop


  1. a workshop where employees work long hours under bad conditions for low wages
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

Word Origin and History for sweat-shop



1892, from sweat + shop (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sweat-shop in Culture


A small factory or shop in which employees are poorly paid and work under adverse conditions. Sweatshops were especially common in the garment industry during the early twentieth century.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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