tra·vail (trə-vāl, trăvāl′)
1. Work, especially when arduous or involving painful effort; toil. See Synonyms at work.
2. Tribulation or agony; anguish.
3. The labor of childbirth.
intr.v. tra·vailed, tra·vail·ing, tra·vails
1. To work strenuously; toil.
2. To be in the labor of childbirth.
[Middle English, from Old French, from travailler, to work hard, from Vulgar Latin *tripāliāre, to torture with a tripalium, from Late Latin tripālium, instrument of torture, probably from Latin tripālis, having three stakes : tri-, tri- + pālus, stake; see pag- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.