Definition of travail in English:


Line breaks: trav|ail
Pronunciation: /ˈtraveɪl


[mass noun] (also travails)
  • 1Painful or laborious effort: advice for those who wish to save great sorrow and travail
    More example sentences
    • And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
    • Springsteen often follows a songwriting strategy that dates back to songs such as ‘Badlands’, with verses full of travail, and choruses that ring with optimism.
    • Today I'm just enormously grateful that such things exist and can be called upon in times of travail.
  • 1.1Labour pains: a woman in travail
    More example sentences
    • Anesthetics and antiseptics have manacled the demon pain, and the curse of travail has been lifted from the soul of women.
    • Our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail.
    • A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow.


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  • 1Engage in painful or laborious effort: creation may travail in pain but it cannot escape its destiny
    More example sentences
    • Paul knew he had to labour like a woman weary after hours of labour pains to effect new life in people: ‘I travail again in birth.’
  • 1.1(Of a woman) be in labour.
    More example sentences
    • And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.


Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin trepalium 'instrument of torture', from Latin tres 'three' + palus 'stake'.

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