Share this entry

Share this page


Line breaks: toil
Pronunciation: /tɔɪl

Definition of toil in English:


[no object]
1Work extremely hard or incessantly: we toiled away [with infinitive]: Richard toiled to build his editorial team
More example sentences
  • Club members had toiled long and hard to build these rooms and the photographers were showing no respect.
  • Hundreds eke out a living, toiling hard throughout the night.
  • At a distance, the cranes, the earthmovers, the construction workers toiled hard and dug deep.
informal slog away, peg away, beaver away, plug away, put one's back into something, work one's guts out, work one's socks off, knock oneself out, sweat blood, kill oneself
British informal graft away, fag
Australian/New Zealand informal bullock
British vulgar slang work one's balls/arse/nuts off
North American vulgar slang work one's ass/butt off
archaic drudge, travail, moil
1.1 [with adverbial of direction] Move slowly and with difficulty: she began to toil up the cliff path
More example sentences
  • I gave my pony to a native and began to toil up the hillside with the infantry.
  • The expedition continued to toil north, and continued to leak men, as deserters wilier than Collins slipped away night after night.
  • I strap everything to my pack, and toil my way up the last three miles in my soggy snowboard boots.
struggle, move with difficulty, labour, trudge, tramp, traipse, slog, plod, trek, footslog, sweat, drag oneself, fight (one's way), push
British informal trog, yomp
North American informal schlep


[mass noun] Back to top  
Exhausting physical labour: a life of toil
More example sentences
  • I have discovered that when it comes to physical toil, some work placement students act like consultants.
  • Nevertheless, the joy of knowing that those bookshelves were the result of your own toil and labour can be beyond measure, even if they are a bit wonky.
  • For the most part, food on the journey would be simple: something that stored well and needed little preparation, and yet was hearty enough to give the energy needed for hard physical toil.
hard work, toiling, labour, slaving, struggle, effort, exertion, application, industry, grind, slog, {blood, sweat, and tears}, drudgery
informal sweat, elbow grease
British informal graft
Australian/New Zealand informal (hard) yakka
archaic travail, moil


Middle English (in the senses 'contend verbally' and 'strife'): from Anglo-Norman French toiler 'strive, dispute', toil 'confusion', from Latin tudiculare 'stir about', from tudicula 'machine for crushing olives', related to tundere 'crush'.



Example sentences
  • He speaks frequently; the old man speaks from time to time; the woman says almost nothing; but the toilers in the field, row upon row, catch only a few words each before the procession moves on.
  • They preferred to claim that they had resisted the charms of embourgeoisement and still stood shoulder to shoulder with the fellow toilers from whom they or their parents had sprung.
  • Italy has seen the success of the Slow Food movement, and at a recent conference on idling there, it was claimed that idlers are smarter than toilers as they can do the same amount of work in half the time.

Definition of toil in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?