The verb in modern French, Spanish, and Portuguese means "to plow;" the wider sense being taken by the equivalent of English travail. Sense of "endure pain, suffer" is early 15c., especially in phrase labor of child (mid-15c.). Meaning "be burdened" (with trouble, affliction, etc., usually with under) is from late 15c. The transitive senses have tended to go with belabor. Related: Labored; laboring.
c. 1300, "a task, a project" (such as the labors of Hercules); later "exertion of the body; trouble, difficulty, hardship" (late 14c.), from Old French labor "toil, work, exertion, task; tribulation, suffering" (12c., Modern French labeur), from Latin labor "toil, exertion; hardship, pain, fatigue; a work, a product of labor," a word of uncertain origin. Some sources venture that it could be related to labere "to totter" on the notion of "tottering under a burden," but de Vaan finds this unconvincing. The native word is work.
Meaning "body of laborers considered as a class" (usually contrasted to capitalists) is from 1839; for the British political sense see labour. Sense of "physical exertions of childbirth" is attested from 1590s, short for labour of birthe (early 15c.); the sense also is found in Old French, and compare French en travail "in (childbirth) suffering" (see travail). Labor Day was first marked 1882 in New York City. The prison labor camp is attested from 1900. Labor-saving (adj.) is from 1776. Labor of love is by 1797.
large province of eastern Canada, probably from Portuguese Lavrador, which is of uncertain origin. Among the theories advanced, W.F. Ganong identifies as "The generally accepted and altogether probable one" that "it was originally 'Terra Laboratoris,' land of the laborer because Cortereal brought fifty men thence to Europe, who were described as well fitted for slaves. This is sustained by all the evidence of old maps." Gasper Cortereal was a Portuguese navigator who explored the coast for the Portuguese crown in 1500 and brought home captives. He returned for more in 1501, but was never heard from again. But a Portuguese map of 1520 has the name Lavrador applied to Greenland, while the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland is called Bacalhaos, which is "codfish" in Basque.
[Labrador] is not used in Cartier's narratives, though it appears in the title of the 1598 edition of his first narrative. It is supposed to have been added by the translator. There are, at least, six theories as to the origin of this word. [W.F. Ganong, "The Cartography of the Gulf of St. Lawrence," 1887]
One of them [Room] is that the sense of the name is "landholder" and is a reference to 15c. Portuguese explorer João Fernandes, called Llavrador, who was a landholder in the Azores and had sailed as far as Iceland and Greenland. John Cabot met Fernandes when he was in Spain and Portugal in the spring of 1498, recruiting sailors for an Atlantic voyage, and he advised Cabot that this was a good way to get to Asia. The breed of retriever dog so called from 1815. Related: Labradorian.