Word Origin & History
"hard work," c.1300, "turmoil, contention, dispute," from Anglo-Fr. toil (13c.), from toiler "agitate, stir up, entangle," from O.Fr. toeillier "drag about, make dirty" (12c.), usually said to be from L. tudiculare "crush with a small hammer," from tudicula "mill for crushing olives, instrument for
crushing," from root of tundere "to pound" (see obtuse
). Sense of "hard work, labor" (1590s) is from the related verb toilen (early 14c.) "to drag, struggle," which had acquired a sense of "hard work" by late 14c. Replaced O.E. swincan.
"net, snare," 1529, from M.Fr. toile "hunting net, cloth, web" (cf. toile d'araignée "cobweb"), from O.Fr. teile, from L. tela "web, woven stuff," related to texere "to weave" (see texture
). Now used largely in plural (caught in the toils of the law).