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[toil] /tɔɪl/
hard and continuous work; exhausting labor or effort.
a laborious task.
Archaic. battle; strife; struggle.
verb (used without object)
to engage in hard and continuous work; labor arduously:
to toil in the fields.
to move or travel with difficulty, weariness, or pain.
verb (used with object)
to accomplish or produce by toil.
Origin of toil1
1250-1300; Middle English toile (noun), toilen (v.) < Anglo-French toil contention, toiler to contend < Latin tudiculāre to stir up, beat, verbal derivative of tudicula machine for crushing olives, equivalent to tudi- (stem of tundere to beat) + -cula -cule2
Related forms
toiler, noun
untoiling, adjective
1. exertion, travail, pains. See work. 4. strive, moil.
1. indolence, sloth. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for toiler
Historical Examples
  • It is a fictitious clearness of mind that comes to the midnight toiler.

    The Young Man and the World Albert J. Beveridge
  • You look out: the toiler's day is a-comin', and it ain't so fur off, neither!

    Alice Adams Booth Tarkington
  • And drab is the mind of the toiler all this time, drab as the skies above and the walls beneath.

    Life in a Railway Factory Alfred Williams
  • From this age onwards, the young Greenlander remains a toiler of the sea.

    Eskimo Life Fridtjof Nansen
  • I was the toiler in mud-stiffened overalls, he arrogant and supercilious in broadcloth and linen.

    The Trail of '98 Robert W. Service
  • The toiler badly paid and ill-fed, is separated from the thinker.

    A Few Words About the Devil Charles Bradlaugh
  • Mr. Oseba concluded, from the conspicuousness of military show, that every toiler in Europe carried a soldier on his back.

  • Who wouldn't be a fellah rather than a toiler in any English town?

    Bella Donna Robert Hichens
  • Also save the little Mission toiler from contamination by personal contact with the bad man, or words to that effect.

    Gold Out of Celebes Aylward Edward Dingle
  • Thus he saw them, thus he heard, whilst the pale and watery sunlight lit up the form of the toiler in Pher.

    Folle-Farine Ouida
British Dictionary definitions for toiler


hard or exhausting work
an obsolete word for strife
(intransitive) to labour
(intransitive) to progress with slow painful movements: to toil up a hill
(transitive) (archaic) to achieve by toil
Derived Forms
toiler, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Anglo-French toiler to struggle, from Old French toeillier to confuse, from Latin tudiculāre to stir, from tudicula machine for bruising olives, from tudes a hammer, from tundere to beat


(often pl) a net or snare: the toils of fortune had ensnared him
(archaic) a trap for wild beasts
Word Origin
C16: from Old French toile, from Latin tēla loom
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for toiler



"hard work," c.1300, "turmoil, contention, dispute," from Anglo-French toil (13c.), from toiler "agitate, stir up, entangle," from Old French toeillier "drag about, make dirty" (12c.), usually said to be from Latin 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 (see toil (v.)).

"net, snare," 1520s, from Middle French toile "hunting net, cloth, web" (cf. toile d'araignée "cobweb"), from Old French teile, from Latin tela "web, woven stuff," related to texere "to weave" (see texture). Now used largely in plural (caught in the toils of the law).


c.1300, toilen, "pull at, tug;" late 14c. as "struggle, work, labor," from Anglo-French tuailler, Old French toellier (see toil (n.1)). Related: Toiled; toiling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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