hard and continuous work; exhausting labor or effort.
a laborious task.
Archaic. battle; strife; struggle.

verb (used without object)

to engage in hard and continuous work; labor arduously: to toil in the fields.
to move or travel with difficulty, weariness, or pain.

verb (used with object)

to accomplish or produce by toil.

Origin of toil

1250–1300; Middle English toile (noun), toilen (v.) < Anglo-French toil contention, toiler to contend < Latin tudiculāre to stir up, beat, verbal derivative of tudicula machine for crushing olives, equivalent to tudi- (stem of tundere to beat) + -cula -cule2
Related formstoil·er, nounun·toil·ing, adjective

Synonyms for toil

1. exertion, travail, pains. See work. 4. strive, moil.

Antonyms for toil Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for toiling

sweat, strive, plug, slave, plod, work, drive, grind, strain, struggle, drudge, labor, moil, tug

Examples from the Web for toiling

Contemporary Examples of toiling

Historical Examples of toiling

  • The brave man went on toiling and learning through suffering.


    Samuel Smiles

  • He was able to discern him, after a little effort, toiling up the steep slopes.

    The Martian Cabal

    Roman Frederick Starzl

  • He has been toiling hard many a year for it, Dinah, don't forget that.


    Charles James Lever

  • She had been toiling through the lanes after Willie and his papa.

    What the Blackbird said

    Mrs. Frederick Locker

  • Are you always to go on toiling for the miserable comforts of other people?

    The Doctor's Family

    Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant

British Dictionary definitions for toiling




hard or exhausting work
an obsolete word for strife


(intr) to labour
(intr) to progress with slow painful movementsto toil up a hill
(tr) archaic to achieve by toil
Derived Formstoiler, noun

Word Origin for toil

C13: from Anglo-French toiler to struggle, from Old French toeillier to confuse, from Latin tudiculāre to stir, from tudicula machine for bruising olives, from tudes a hammer, from tundere to beat




(often plural) a net or snarethe toils of fortune had ensnared him
archaic a trap for wild beasts

Word Origin for toil

C16: from Old French toile, from Latin tēla loom
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 toiling



"hard work," c.1300, "turmoil, contention, dispute," from Anglo-French toil (13c.), from toiler "agitate, stir up, entangle," from Old French toeillier "drag about, make dirty" (12c.), usually said to be from Latin tudiculare "crush with a small hammer," from tudicula "mill for crushing olives, instrument for crushing," from root of tundere "to pound" (see obtuse). Sense of "hard work, labor" (1590s) is from the related verb (see toil (v.)).



"net, snare," 1520s, from Middle French toile "hunting net, cloth, web" (cf. toile d'araignée "cobweb"), from Old French teile, from Latin tela "web, woven stuff," related to texere "to weave" (see texture). Now used largely in plural (caught in the toils of the law).



c.1300, toilen, "pull at, tug;" late 14c. as "struggle, work, labor," from Anglo-French tuailler, Old French toellier (see toil (n.1)). Related: Toiled; toiling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper