a means of supporting one's existence, especially financially or vocationally; living: to earn a livelihood as a tenant farmer.

Origin of livelihood

before 1000; earlier liveliod, livelihod, alteration (by reanalysis as lively + -hood; compare obsolete livelihood liveliness) of Middle English livelod, Old English līflād conduct of life, way of life (see life, lode, load)

Synonyms for livelihood

Synonym study

See living. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for livelihood

Contemporary Examples of livelihood

Historical Examples of livelihood

  • Still, I had nothing; not even the means of seeking a livelihood.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • But you know it is time I was doing something to earn my own livelihood now.

    The Slave Of The Lamp

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • I will do anything Tom, anything, to gain a livelihood by my own exertions.

  • Was not his accordion there to show that he possessed a regular means of livelihood?

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre

  • No other person seemed to know with certainty what were Wilson's means of livelihood.

British Dictionary definitions for livelihood



occupation or employment
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 livelihood

1610s, alteration of livelode "means of keeping alive" (c.1300), from Old English lifad "course of life," from lif "life" + lad "way, course" (see load). Cf. Old High German libleita. Spelling assimilated to words in -hood. Earlier livelihood was a different word, meaning "liveliness," from lively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper