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  1. characterized by or involving toil; laborious or fatiguing.
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Origin of toilsome

First recorded in 1575–85; toil1 + -some1
Related formstoil·some·ly, adverbtoil·some·ness, noun

Synonyms for toilsome

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for toilsome

arduous, backbreaking, burdensome, demanding, difficult, hard, labored, onerous, operose, rough, strenuous, taxing, tiresome, uphill, exhausting

Examples from the Web for toilsome

Historical Examples of toilsome

  • The drive is a slow and toilsome ascent of three hours and a half.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • It was like a toilsome passage through the workings of an iron mine.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • This was at eight or nine in the morning, after many hours' toilsome march.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • It was a toilsome and dreary march, unrelieved by aught to lessen the fatigue.

    Arthur O'Leary

    Charles James Lever

  • The third day of my toilsome journey was drawing to a close.

British Dictionary definitions for toilsome



  1. laborious
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Derived Formstoilsomely or toilfully, adverbtoilsomeness or toilfulness, noun
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 toilsome


1580s, from toil + -some (1). An earlier word was toilous (early 15c.). The opposite, toilless (c.1600) is much less common.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper