Define Your Purpose With 14 Motivating Synonyms For “Work”

Every year on the first Monday in September, we celebrate Labor Day. Labor Day, which falls on September 6, 2021, is a holiday that can mean different things to different people: the end of summer, a chance to break out the barbeque, or a perfect opportunity for a clearance sale.

However, Labor Day has a long history and was designated in order to celebrate American workers, a sentiment that still rings true today. As its name implies, Labor Day is a day that honors labor, a word that is a synonym of work. Historically, the word labor referred to skilled trade work, such as the work of an electrician or a plumber.

The words labor and work often get a bad rap because they are sometimes used alongside words like toil, struggle, drudgery, and grind to negatively refer to things that people really don’t want to do. However, both labor and work can describe all the effort and energy we dedicate to activities that bring us joy and pride, too. With that in mind, let’s take a step back and look at some words that can help us reflect on the fruits of our labor, whether it’s the work we are paid to do or our beloved hobbies and passion projects.


A vocation is a “a particular occupation, business, or profession” or someone’s calling. Interestingly, the English word vocation originally comes from the Latin verb vocāre, which means “to call.” Someone is likely to refer to their job as their vocation if they really feel like it was something they were born or destined to do. Relatedly, vocation is also used to refer to the work of priests, preachers, and other religious people who believe they have been called by God.


  • He never once regretted pursuing painting as his vocation.

We call upon you to learn about the related words invoke and evoke now.


A person’s livelihood is the activity that they do to ensure that they continue to be alive. This word goes the extra mile, adding an air of importance and necessity to the work that a person does. Livelihood is often used in news stories to refer to jobs or activities that a large number of people do to support themselves, especially if those jobs are in danger.


  • The severe drought seriously impacted the farmers, whose livelihood depended on the rainy season.


A craft is an activity that requires a lot of skill or special ability. Activities such as sculpting, cooking, or writing are some examples of things a person may describe as their craft if they feel it demands a lot of practice and skill to master. A person who is especially skilled at a craft is referred to as a craftsman or craftswoman.


  • The sword maker told me that it took him many years to master his craft.

If you’re in search of an ideal work position, use our tips on crafting an effective resume. 


Métier is a fancy French way of saying “a field of work.” This word is often used to refer to work that someone considers to be their speciality or strong point. So, you can double up on the French and give your sentence that certain je ne sais quoi by using métier to refer to someone’s “special training or ability,” or forte.


  • The young actress said that acting was her métier, and nobody disagreed with her after she won numerous awards.


A career is a profession that someone engages in for a long time or possibly even their entire life. People often differentiate a job from a career based on how long they expect to have it or how much passion they have for what they are doing. Career is also often used as an adjective to refer to work a person has done for—and grown in—a really long time. For example, a person may be referred to as a career soldier if they have spent many years in the military.


  • Mark quit his job at the factory to pursue a career in real estate.


Endeavor can be used as a noun to mean “a strenuous effort” or as a verb to mean “make an effort.” Endeavor is used to describe a person who is trying really, really hard to accomplish a goal. Often, this word is used when someone wishes another person “good luck in their future endeavors.”


  • Despite the numerous setbacks, Clarissa persistently endeavored to give her cat a bath.


Strive is a verb that means “to make strenuous efforts toward any goal.” Strive is often used to describe a person who shows determination and continues to push through problems and hurdles to reach their goals. Strive is a great word to use if you want to emphasize that someone never backed down in the face of adversity. Grammar tip: strive is an irregular verb; its past tense is strove.

  • The independence group strives for a free nation of their own.


Learn more about irregular verbs like strive in this article about shrive and shrove.


Drive has a lot of meanings, but it can be used as a noun to mean “a vigorous onset or onward course toward a goal or objective.” Like a car racing to the finish line, a motivated person gives everything they have to succeed in their drive toward victory. Drive can also mean “a united effort to accomplish a goal,” as in a charity drive or a blood drive. Drive can also refer to energy or initiative, as in the drive a person needs to succeed at whatever they want to do. However you decide to use drive on the road to success, remember to buckle up!


  •  The company was committed to its drive toward energy efficiency.


Vim is “lively or energetic spirit.” If you want to succeed at something, you are going to need a lot of vim. Vim is often used alongside its synonym vigor to describe a person who is especially spirited or full of energy. The word vim comes from a form of the Latin word vīs, meaning “energy” or “force.”


  • The winning sprinter was full of vim and vigor even after completing the grueling race.

People packed with vim may be inspired to live in the moment, too. So check out these synonyms for freestylin’ in life. 


Double or nothing! The word venture refers to an undertaking or operation that has a risky or potentially dangerous outcome. A brave hiker might take a venture through the woods, for example. In business, companies often engage in ventures wherein they enter unfamiliar markets or invest money into risky projects. Sometimes it works out great and sometimes you end up with an epic fail. (Crystal Pepsi, anyone?)


  • Critics were impressed with the young director’s venture into making serious dramas.


An enterprise is “a project undertaken or to be undertaken, especially one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy.” The word enterprise is perfect for describing a really important project or work that requires someone to boldly go where no man has gone before.

  • Kirk was in charge of the mission to rescue the trapped miners, and he courageously accomplished the seemingly impossible enterprise.


Aspiration means “a goal or objective that is strongly desired.” People will often work really hard in order to achieve their aspirations, such as owning a home or paying off student loans. Often, people also have career aspirations, such as getting their dream job or earning a big promotion.


  • Fueled by his aspirations of becoming a world champion boxer, Donovan trained every day.


Now, here is a stylish word to use. Oeuvre is a French word that means “the works of a writer, painter, or the like, taken as a whole.” Undoubtedly, artists invest a lot of labor into their work in order to create great masterpieces and works of beauty. Oeuvre is a fantastically ornate word that can describe either a few of an artist’s works or their entire collection.

  • Leonardo da Vinci’s oeuvre includes some of the most famous paintings ever made, such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

magnum opus

Our list has come a long way but we will finish things out with our greatest achievement yet. A magnum opus is “a great work, especially the chief work of a writer or artist.” And indeed, it literally means “great work” in its original Latin. A person’s magnum opus is the greatest thing they ever did or the work that brought them everlasting fame, wealth, and/or glory. A magnum opus is the most delicious of all of the fruits of our labor, and some may work on their magnum opus their entire career or even their entire life.


  • The legendary architect retired after designing the extravagant palace, which she said was her magnum opus.

You’ve read plenty of words about labor already, but if you want to be a true wordsmith then there is still work to do! We have an excellent word list full of synonyms for work and labor right here. If you think you already know all there is to know about words about labor, you can also take our short quiz about words that are workaholics.


If you’re ready to move on to the next adventure but need to leave your current work behind, try one of these words for quit instead. 

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