Student Dictionary

2 entries found for toil.
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Main Entry: 1toil
Pronunciation: primarystresstodoti(schwa)l
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English toile "battle, argument," derived from early French toyl, "battle, disturbance, confusion," from toiller (verb) "make dirty, fight, wrangle," from Latin tudiculare "crush, grind," from tudicula "machine with hammers for beating olives," from tudes "hammer"
: long hard labor
Word History Even though we have machines to do much of our hard work today, much long, hard toil must still be done by hand. Our Modern English word toil, however, comes from a Latin word for a laborsaving machine. The ancient Romans built a machine for crushing olives to produce olive oil. This machine was called a tudicula. This Latin word was formed from the word tudes, meaning "hammer," because the machine had little hammers to crush the olives. From this came the Latin verb tudiculare, meaning "to crush or grind." Early French used this Latin verb as the basis for its verb, spelled toiller, which meant "to make dirty, fight, wrangle." From this came the noun toyl, meaning "battle, disturbance, confusion." This early French noun in time was taken into Middle English as toile, meaning "argument, battle." The earliest sense of our Modern English toil was "a long, hard struggle in battle." It is natural enough that in time this came to be used to refer to any long hard effort.

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