1. hard and continuous work; exhausting labor or effort.
  2. a laborious task.
  3. Archaic. battle; strife; struggle.

verb (used without object)

  1. to engage in hard and continuous work; labor arduously: to toil in the fields.
  2. to move or travel with difficulty, weariness, or pain.

verb (used with object)

  1. to accomplish or produce by toil.


  1. Usually toils. a net or series of nets in which game known to be in the area is trapped or into which game outside of the area is driven.
  2. Usually toils. trap; snare: to be caught in the toils of a gigantic criminal conspiracy.
  3. Archaic. any snare or trap for wild beasts.


  1. hard or exhausting work
  2. an obsolete word for strife


  1. (intr) to labour
  2. (intr) to progress with slow painful movementsto toil up a hill
  3. (tr) archaic to achieve by toil


  1. (often plural) a net or snarethe toils of fortune had ensnared him
  2. archaic a trap for wild beasts

“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.

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