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Is it “Labour” or “Labor”?

Labour or labor?

Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 07:17 pm



Labor and labour are actually both correct spellings to refer to the noun that means, “work”, (typically arduous physical work).


Which is correct: labor or labour?

Labor and labour are both recognized spellings; the difference is where they’re used:

  • UK English spells “labour” with the “u”.

  • US English spells “labor” without the “u”.



Other “-our”/”-or” words

Other words that share the “-our” / “-or” suffix follow the same spelling convention:

UK EnglishUS English
favourfavor
labourlabor
behaviourbehavior
colourcolor
neighbourneighbor
endeavourendeavor



Verb forms of labour/labor

Other verb/noun forms of labour/labor follow the same spelling pattern:

US Englishlabor, labored, laboring, labors.
UK Englishlabour, laboured, labouring, labours.



Sentences using labour as a noun

The price will include the labour/labor and materials.

The company wants to keep down labour/labor costs.

The workers voted to withdraw their labour/labor.

Companies are making huge profits by exploiting cheap labour/labor in poor countries.



Sentences using labour as a verb

He was in his study labouring/laboring away over some old papers.

They laboured/labored for years to clear their son’s name.

With the engine labouring/laboring, the car struggled up the hill.

The horses laboured/labored up the steep slope.



Synonyms of labour

  • work
  • employment
  • exertion
  • hard work
  • toil
  • industry
  • effort
  • grind away
  • endeavour



Phrases with the word labour (or labor)

PhraseMeaning
Labor DayA federal holiday in the US celebrated on the first Monday of every September to honour and recognize the American Labor Movement.
a labor of loveWork done from love or passion rather than money or some other motivation.
green labourA phrase to describe people that are new in the workplace and “fresh” (or uninfluenced by previous work experience).
to labour away at somethingTo work diligently or tirelessly at something.
to induce labour (to give birth)To cause a pregnant woman to begin the birthing process.
to labour the pointTo talk about or emphasize something excessively or repetitively,
to labour under the illusion or delusion of somethingTo operate or live under a belief or conviction of some kind.
the fruit of one’s labourMeaning the outcome or result of one’s efforts or hard work.



The origin of labour

From Etymonline:

c. 1300, “a task, a project” (such as the labors of Hercules); later “exertion of the body; trouble, difficulty, hardship” (late 14c.), from Old French labor “toil, work, exertion, task; tribulation, suffering” (12c., Modern French labeur), from Latin labor “toil, exertion; hardship, pain, fatigue; a work, a product of labor,” a word of uncertain origin.



Learn more about US English vs. UK English



Sources

  1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of labor.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 19 January, 2024.

  2. Wikipedia contributors. “Labor Day.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Dec. 2023. Web. 21 Jan. 2024.


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