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Definition a difficult experience — especially one involving hard work or pain

Much less commonly, travail can refer to a woman in labor during the birth of a baby.
  • a time of economic travail
  • Lines formed in his face, and in those lines were the travail of the North, the bite of the frost, all that he had achieved and suffered
    Jack London  --  Burning Daylight
  • Is all our travail turn'd to this effect?
    William Shakespeare  --  King Henry VI, Part 1
  • Here's the beginning of love at the end of our travail.
    Ian McEwan  --  Atonement
  • One's own personal doings look small indeed, when faced with the momentous travails of History, which we can only trust are for the greater good.
    Margaret Atwood  --  Alias Grace
  • The queen had to find another defender or today's ordeal would be the least of her travails.
    George R.R. Martin  --  A Dance With Dragons
  • Come Lord, and gather of the fruits of thy travail and thy pleading.
    George Eliot  --  Adam Bede
  • God safely quit her of her burden, and With gentle travail, to the gladding of Your Highness with an heir!
    William Shakespeare  --  Henry VIII
  • She will have to have others, more remembering the young strong body from out whose travail even there shone something tranquil and unafraid.
    William Faulkner  --  Light in August
  • Though I couldn't claim to read the mind of a horse, I had the strange notion that this one was enjoying my travails.
    Nicholas Sparks  --  Dear John
  • All women, he thought, from the youngest on up, seemed fascinated by his travail and agony.
    Pat Frank  --  Alas, Babylon
  • For the first time all that pure, spiritual, inward travail through which she had lived appeared on the surface.
    Leo Tolstoy  --  War and Peace
  • But not for that dream I on this strange course, But on this travail look for greater birth.
    William Shakespeare  --  Much Ado About Nothing
  • On March 18 Tex Stanton, who had endured and witnessed so much travail, received his final wounds.
    James Bradley  --  Flags of Our Fathers
  • 35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
    The Bible  --  Genesis
  • When I came to my cabin after trying to help Charley in his travail, Robbie was tying a trouble light to the iron frame of my sad bed.
    John Steinbeck  --  Travels with Charley
  • France seems travailing in the birth of freedom [wrote William Maclay].
    David McCullough  --  John Adams
  • Out of his travail he had climbed on stepping-stones of his dead self.
    Zane Grey  --  The Call of the Canyon
  • Suffered the Indignities and Travails of this World for 42 Years, 4 months, 9 Days, and went to Rest at Last February 12, 1884.
    William Faulkner  --  Absalom, Absalom!
  • And when he came to the verse, "A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow because her hour is come", he missed it out.
    D.H. Lawrence  --  Sons and Lovers

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