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Published by at March 20th, 2024 , Revised On March 25, 2024

Labor Vs Labour: Differences & Examples

The English language, in all its glory, can sometimes throw curveballs at even the most seasoned writers because of the differences in how the words are spelled in different regions. One such example is the pair “labor” and “labour.” While they sound identical, a single letter “u” makes all the difference depending on where you are from. This blog will help you understand labor vs labour. 

Labor Labour
Spelling US Australia
Meaning
  • Physical or mental exertion exerted to do or make something; work
  • The effort of childbirth
  • Workers clilectively
  • Physical or mental exertion exerted to do or make something; work
  • The effort of childbirth
  • Workers collectively
Examples
  • He labored all day to finish the project.
  • The labor of love she put into her artwork was evident.
  • She’s in labor, call the midwife!
  • She went into labour last night.
  • The labour union negotiated for better working conditions.
  • The Labour Party won the election.

US Vs Australia

The primary distinction between “labor” and “labour” lies in dialects. American English, a dialect that diverged from British English centuries ago, favours a simpler spelling system.

This preference for dropping unnecessary letters manifests in words like “color” versus “colour,” “favor” versus “favour,” and, of course, “labor” versus “labour.”

On the other hand, British English, along with its derivatives used in Commonwealth countries like Australia, retains the older spelling with the “u.” So, while Americans talk about “labor unions” and the “workforce as a whole,” Australians use “labour unions” and refer to the “labour market.”

Labourer Vs Laborer

“Labourer” is the Australian English spelling, while “laborer” is the American English spelling. Both refer to a person who performs physical work, typically manual tasks, in sectors like construction, manufacturing, or agriculture.

Exceptions & Interesting Tidbits

There are, however, a few interesting exceptions to this rule. In Australia, the official name of the major political party is the “Australian Labor Party,” despite the widespread use of “labour” in most other contexts. This is likely due to the party’s historical ties to the British Labour Party.

Similarly, some related words like “laborious” (meaning requiring much work) retain the “u” even in American English. This highlights the sometimes-unpredictable nature of language evolution.

When To Use Labor Vs Labour

Here is a handy guide to help you navigate the “labor” vs “labour” dilemma:

  • If you’re writing for a US audience or following American English conventions, use “labor.” This applies to academic papers, business documents, and everyday writing.
  • If you’re writing for an Australian audience or following British English conventions, use “labour.” This includes formal and informal communication within Australia.
  • When unsure, “labor” is generally the safer option for a broader global audience. However, double-checking with a style guide if you are targeting a specific region is always a good practice.

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Examples Of Labor Vs Labour

Labor Labour
She went into labor after a long night of contractions. She went into labour after a long night of contractions.
The company hired additional labor to meet the holiday demand. The company hired additional labour to meet the holiday demand.
He labored for hours in the hot sun to finish the construction project. He laboured for hours in the hot sun to finish the construction project.
The labor union negotiated for better working conditions. The labour union negotiated for better working conditions.
The labor market is competitive, with many skilled workers seeking employment. The labour market is competitive, with many skilled workers seeking employment.
The child labor laws prohibit minors from working in hazardous conditions. The child labour laws prohibit minors from working in hazardous conditions.
She labored over her thesis for months before finally submitting it. She laboured over her thesis for months before finally submitting it.
The company outsourced its labor to reduce costs. The company outsourced its labour to reduce costs.
He was hired as a manual laborer to work on the assembly line. He was hired as a manual labourer to work on the assembly line.
The project required a lot of labor-intensive tasks. The project required a lot of labour-intensive tasks.

Frequently Asked Questions

The difference between “labour” and “labor” lies solely in their spelling conventions based on regional variations of English: “labour” is the Australian English spelling, while “labor” is the American English spelling. Both words refer to work or exertion.

In the UK, the preferred spelling is “labour.” This spelling is consistent with British English conventions and is used in contexts referring to work, employment, or the labour movement, distinguishing it from the American English spelling “labor.”

“Work” generally refers to any activity involving mental or physical effort to achieve a result. “Labor” specifically refers to physical or mental exertion related to tasks, employment, or production, often in a more industrial or manual context.

“Labour” refers to the overall process of work or effort, including tasks, employment, or production. “Labourer” specifically denotes an individual who performs manual or physical work as their occupation, often in sectors like construction, manufacturing, or agriculture.

The preferred term depends on regional conventions. In the Australia and other Commonwealth countries, it’s “labour economics.” In the US and some other English-speaking countries, it’s “labor economics.” Both refer to the study of workforce-related issues.