Word of the Day


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1.the workers in a particular country, industry, or company considered as a group

2. work, especially hard physical work

3. the organizations to which workers belong, or their leaders, considered as a group

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun labour, spelled labor in American English, comes from Latin and French words for ‘work’. It was first used in English at the very beginning of the 14th century, with the verb following at the end of the century. The use of the term labour to refer to workers as a whole started in the early 19th century.


Today is Labour Day, celebrated around the world as an opportunity to honour ordinary workers. It originated in the US in the late 19th century as a protest aimed at obtaining improved rights and shorter working hours for workers in the city of Chicago. May 1st is also known as May Day, traditionally the occasion for the celebration of the beginning of spring. The day is also known as International Workers’ Day or just Workers’ Day and is a public holiday in many countries. Confusingly, in the US Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September, while in the UK May 1st is not a public holiday; this falls on the first Monday of the month regardless of the date.


“It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.”
(Adam Smith)

“The reward of labour is life. Is that not enough?”
(William Morris)

Related words

work, effort, industry, graft

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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