Definition of travail in English:

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Pronunciation: /trəˈvā(ə)l/


(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.
ordeal, trial, tribulation, trial and tribulation, trouble, hardship, privation, stress;
drudgery, toil, slog, effort, exertion, labor, work, endeavor, sweat, struggle
1.1Labor 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.


[no object]
1Engage in painful or laborious effort.
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 labor.
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'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tra·vail

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