Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for September 14, 2019 is:
travail • truh-VAIL • noun
1 a : work especially of a painful or laborious nature : toil
“Time and again, the company made shrewd business decisions that, through the many travails of two centuries, has left it standing.” — Robert Klara, Adweek.com, 20 May 2019
“The [Rolling] Stones have survived it all by this point: near-breakups, the death of one member, the voluntary departure of a few others, medical maladies, as well as all the typical travails that have doomed countless other bands coming up in their wake.” — Corbin Reiff, Billboard.com, 22 June 2019
Did you know?
Etymologists are pretty certain that travail 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, which means “having three stakes” (from tri-, meaning “three,” and palus, meaning “stake”). From trepalium sprang the Anglo-French verb travailler, which originally meant “to torment” but eventually acquired the milder senses “to trouble” and “to journey.” The Anglo-French noun travail was borrowed into English in the 13th century, along with another descendant of travailler, travel.