Word Origin & History
c.1300, "exertion of the body," from O.Fr. labour (Fr. labeur), from L. laborem (nom. labor) "toil, pain, exertion, fatigue, work," perhaps originally "tottering under a burden," related to labere "to totter." The verb is c.1300, from M.Fr. labourer, from L. laborare, from labor. The verb in modern
Fr., Sp., Port. means "to plow;" the wider sense being taken by the equivalent of Eng. travail. Meaning "body of laborers considered as a class" (usually contrasted to capitalists) is from 1839. Sense of "physical exertions of childbirth" is 1595, from Fr. en travail "in (childbirth) suffering" (see travail
). Labor Day first marked 1882 in New York City.