Definition of labour in English:


Line breaks: la¦bour
Pronunciation: /ˈleɪbə
(US labor)


[mass noun]
  • 2 (Labour) [treated as singular or plural] The Labour Party: [as modifier]: the Labour leader
    More example sentences
    • They seem to think that the way to beat Labour is to be more Leftist than Labour!
    • South Swindon has a new Member of Parliament but the seat is still held by Labour.
    • Teresa Page was a hard-working councillor and Labour will be sad to see her go.


[no object] Back to top  
  • 2Have difficulty in doing something despite working hard: United laboured against confident opponents
    More example sentences
    • The home side struggled to overcome Edinburgh, but despite labouring for long periods the grit of the Irish forwards eventually saw them through.
    • He was laden with a heavy old radio and was labouring to keep up.
    • There had been a failure specifically to identify favourable material, but that was attributed to the difficulties under which the applicant has been labouring by reason of having been detained.
    strive, struggle, endeavour, work, try hard, make every effort, do one's best, do one's utmost, do all one can, give (it/something) one's all, go all out, fight, push, be at pains, put oneself out, apply oneself, exert oneself
  • 2.1 [with adverbial of direction] Move or proceed with difficulty: they laboured up a steep, tortuous track
    More example sentences
    • Our taxis, which had labored up the narrow, winding road, descended much more swiftly.
    • She labored up to the stoop, red face partially hidden by brown paper bags.
    • In the terrible heat, the fugitives labored up a tomb-lined slope toward Nuceria.
  • 2.2(Of an engine) work noisily and with difficulty: the wheels churned, the engine labouring
    More example sentences
    • He felt the engine laboring, gathering speed slowly, the breakdown lane narrowing rapidly ahead.
    • She turned on her radar detector and slid up to a hundred and five, riding easily, her huge engine hardly laboring as she raced through the night.
    • The engines labored to push the bulky ship off the side of the building and into the air.
  • 2.3(Of a ship) roll or pitch heavily: (as adjective labouring) occasionally the labouring ship spat the caulking from some underwater seam
    More example sentences
    • The waves were strong, The Heart of Isis laboured heavily and the men were tested sorely, but by nightfall they had cleared the island without finding safe harbor.


a labour of Hercules

a labour of love

A task done for pleasure, not reward: he spent eight years rebuilding the house—a labour of love
More example sentences
  • You're right, it was a labor of love.
  • These and the other films scheduled have all been labours of love.
  • Since I usually get paid by the word (except for labours of love, of course, like this review), I'm all in favour of that.

labour the point

Explain or discuss something at excessive length.
More example sentences
  • The council labours the point that the benchmark return for a company is the ‘risk-free’ return shareholders could earn on their investment.
  • In my own writings, I have always laboured the point that beer can be used in many different ways: as a marinade, in braising, sauces, batters, doughs, and so forth.
  • If I am labouring the point it is for a reason.
overemphasize, belabour, overstress, place/lay too much emphasis on, overdo, strain, over-elaborate, overplay, attach too much importance/weight to, make too much of, exaggerate, dwell on, harp on (about), expound on, expand

Phrasal verbs

labour under

  • 1Carry (a very heavy load) with difficulty: two servants appeared, labouring under the weight of a kitchen table
  • 2Be misled by (a mistaken belief): you’ve been labouring under a misapprehension
    More example sentences
    • I'm always open to listening to new artists, labouring under the belief that all artists were at some point new and that they had to be given their fair shake.
    • I think they are laboring under the belief that the state has put up everything they've got to show, that Amber's the icing on the cake.
    • I was marginally shocked when they sat down beside me; I was still labouring under the belief that guys were way too cool to sit cross - legged, especially on the grass.
    suffer from, be a victim of, be burdened by, be overburdened by, be disadvantaged by, be under


Middle English: from Old French labour (noun), labourer (verb), both from Latin labor 'toil, trouble'.

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