[truh-veyl, trav-eyl]
painfully difficult or burdensome work; toil.
pain, anguish or suffering resulting from mental or physical hardship.
the pain of childbirth.
verb (used without object)
to suffer the pangs of childbirth; be in labor.
to toil or exert oneself.

1200–50; (v.) Middle English travaillen < Old French travaillier to torment < Vulgar Latin *trepaliāre to torture, derivative of Late Latin trepālium torture chamber, literally, instrument of torture made with three stakes (see tri-, pale2); (noun) Middle English < Old French: suffering, derivative of travailler

1. labor, moil. 2. torment, agony. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
travail (ˈtræveɪl)
1.  painful or excessive labour or exertion
2.  the pangs of childbirth; labour
3.  (intr) to suffer or labour painfully, esp in childbirth
[C13: from Old French travaillier, from Vulgar Latin tripaliāre (unattested) to torture, from Late Latin trepālium instrument of torture, from Latin tripālis having three stakes, from trēs three + pālus stake]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"labor, toil," mid-13c., from O.Fr. travail "suffering or painful effort, trouble" (12c.), from travailler "to toil, labor," originally "to trouble, torture," from V.L. *tripaliare "to torture," from *tripalium (in L.L. trepalium) "instrument of torture," probably from L. tripalis "having three stakes"
(from tria, tres "three" + palus "stake"), which sounds ominous, but the exact notion is obscure. The verb is recorded from c.1300.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
In these and many other respects, travel has resumed its ancient meaning, of travail.
Dogs, anchored in the present, know no such travail.
Students are smart enough to see the pressures under which their faculty mentors travail.
If there is one thing the long travail of the last four presidencies has taught us, it is to be skeptical of the easy answer.
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