Definition of toil in English:



  • 1 Work extremely hard or incessantly.

    ‘we toiled away’
    [with infinitive] ‘Richard toiled to build his editorial team’
    • ‘Even just a century ago, U.S. industrial workers toiled ten hours a day, six days a week and earned an average of $375 a year.’
    • ‘He had toiled hard to earn it and it would long be his cherished possession.’
    • ‘Something happened today that will really affect Christmas for New Zealanders who are out there, working hard and toiling away: interest rates went up.’
    • ‘Her working hours increase, her pay is cut, and the conditions under which she must toil become increasingly arduous.’
    • ‘He thinks about this a moment and then issues a bleak verdict on the drug-policing system in which he's toiled for the past 25 years.’
    • ‘They toil long hours in appalling conditions in machine shops and restaurants.’
    • ‘Set amid terraced paddy fields where farmers in bamboo hats still till and toil much as they have done for centuries, Ubud has beautiful temples, traditional markets and a surprising number of upmarket shops.’
    • ‘Some of the party workers who had been toiling all day, and were still expecting a victory, retired to a nearby pub to enjoy themselves.’
    • ‘This was not because European workers toiled less intensively.’
    • ‘Hundreds eke out a living, toiling hard throughout the night.’
    • ‘This is a straightforward, unpretentious musical comedy about five cleaning women who toil night after night in a Calgary office building.’
    • ‘Workers had toiled to move dirt to fill in the deeper puddles and the match was able to proceed with two days of fast shooting in excellent weather.’
    • ‘They are toiling away, working hard, and looking for the green light from the Minister of Finance.’
    • ‘Geraldine's sixth class pupils were certainly as busy as Santa's little helpers as they toiled packing shoeboxes full of toys and other items.’
    • ‘Club members had toiled long and hard to build these rooms and the photographers were showing no respect.’
    • ‘After all, it's a complete waste to struggle and toil in order to accumulate possessions that you will have no use for in death.’
    • ‘At a distance, the cranes, the earthmovers, the construction workers toiled hard and dug deep.’
    • ‘Those of us who toil every day at the Headquarters of the United Nations have become a little exasperated at seeing our institutional obituaries in the press.’
    • ‘There is little point in having workers toil long and hard to sweep the debris into neat piles, which are then left to withstand the ravages of wind, rain and speeding wheels.’
    • ‘Of a kind and generous disposition he toiled hard all his life for the good of his family.’
    work hard, labour, work one's fingers to the bone, work like a trojan, work like a dog, work day and night, exert oneself, keep at it, keep one's nose to the grindstone, grind away, slave away, grub away, plough away, plod away
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    1. 1.1[with adverbial of direction]Move slowly and with difficulty.
      ‘she began to toil up the cliff path’
      • ‘I gave my pony to a native and began to toil up the hillside with the infantry.’
      • ‘Having done some cycling in England as a teenager, I have admired the amateur cyclists I've seen toiling up those climbs and can appreciate the difficulty of the last segment of stage eight.’
      • ‘I strap everything to my pack, and toil my way up the last three miles in my soggy snowboard boots.’
      • ‘The expedition continued to toil north, and continued to leak men, as deserters wilier than Collins slipped away night after night.’
      struggle, move with difficulty, labour, trudge, tramp, traipse, slog, plod, trek, footslog, sweat, drag oneself, push
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  • Exhausting physical labor.

    ‘a life of toil’
    • ‘But any music fan should enjoy seeing the blood, sweat and toil that goes into making the end product we all buy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The dirt and grime of industrial toil has been largely replaced by white-collar jobs.’
    • ‘I have discovered that when it comes to physical toil, some work placement students act like consultants.’
    • ‘Over the summer months of toil and voluntary effort it will yet again become apparent who has earned the right to have their say.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He began to build levees to stem the flooding but after nine years of exhausting toil, the position worsened everywhere.’
    • ‘Despite their faintness, Goya's lines retain everywhere a sense of hard physical toil.’
    • ‘Bill was a man who worked hard all his life without becoming a slave to toil.’
    • ‘All that effort, toil and rhetoric is finished and now winners and losers have to face the results.’
    • ‘Days are drenched in the strong scent of cigarette smoke, all-purpose soap, cow manure, eucalyptus leaf, espresso coffee, and the bouquet of our toil and sweat.’
    • ‘Curving stone walls crisscrossed the landscapes, testifying to centuries of toil and sweat by inhabitants, creating soft, green pastures for livestock.’
    • ‘But local firms provided plants and materials, and after a fortnight's toil the job was done.’
    • ‘After six and a half years of toil and sweat, I was finally done!’
    • ‘Unless we are to believe naively that leisure and luxury crystallize out of thin air, we must recognize and acknowledge that the comforts of globalization are reaped from the labour and toil of others.’
    • ‘There is no hint of self-consciousness from this writing, no whiff of labour or toil.’
    • ‘It wasn't the hours of toil, sweat and petrol clearing the footpath which concerned me, but the wasted wheat.’
    • ‘Now when I talk about effort here I don't mean some awful dreary toil.’
    • ‘Churchill responded by exhorting them to fight on the beaches and promised them only blood, tears, toil and sweat.’
    • ‘All his life Nelson was profoundly aware of the drudgery of toil, whether on the furrow or the lower deck, and humanely responsive to the concerns of the least privileged.’
    hard work, toiling, labour, slaving, struggle, effort, exertion, application, industry, grind, slog, blood, sweat, and tears, drudgery
    sweat, elbow grease
    travail, moil
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Middle English (in the senses contend verbally and strife): from Anglo-Norman French toiler strive, dispute toil confusion from Latin tudiculare stir around from tudicula machine for crushing olives related to tundere crush.