noun1 a : work especially of a painful or laborious nature : toil b : a physical or mental exertion or piece of work :task, effort c : agony, torment 2 : childbirth, labor
“Japan‘s electronics industry has been able to hold on to its status as a powerhouse exporter in spite of numerous travails, such as the collapse of the bubble economy in the 1990s.” — Tatsuo Ito, Wall StreetJournal, February 24, 2015
“But this is not the first time Bono has dabbled in journalism, or exposedhimself to the unforgiving gaze of the blogosphere. Other literary travailsinclude a blog for the Financial Timesin which he describes meeting the Japanese prime minister….” — Alexandra Topping, The Guardian, January 13, 2009
Did you know?
Etymologists are pretty certain thattravail comes from trepalium, the Late Latin name of an instrument of torture. We don’t know exactly what a trepalium looked like, but the word‘s history gives us an idea. Trepalium is derived from the Latin tripalis, whichmeans “having three stakes” (fromtri-, meaning “three,” and palus, meaning “stake“). From trepaliumsprang the Anglo-French verbtravailler, which originally meant “to torment” but eventually acquired the milder senses “to trouble” and “to journey.” The Anglo-French nountravail was borrowed into English in the 13th century, followed about a century later by travel, anotherdescendant of travailler.