4

While reading a scientific paper I stumbled about their usage of the word "toilless" (they write it like that, even though I get corrected to "toil less" when typing it).

As the whole paper is, to say the least, not perfect in language usage I am somewhat hesitant to link it here. I am not perfect myself and don't want to make somebody look like a fool.

The way they use it is like "effortless", for example:

One method is relatively toilless, while the other is much more challenging.

So, getting curious, I started to search the web, first did not find "toilless" at all, then found something at the Free Online Dictionary.

"Free from toil", this description was quite clear to me.

But do you really use this word? Do you have any examples of correct usage for me? It sounds rather old-fashioned or maybe specific to some field. (Though not the one the paper was about, which I know rather well.)

  • One of the beautiful things about English is you can wordify almost anything and the recipient is likely to understand. But yes, toilless is not a word by most definitions nor I have I heard it in use in conversation or slang. – Paul Aug 13 '13 at 12:21
  • Even if you don't want to link "the whole paper", you could at least provide 1 or 2 relevant extracts in your question. – TrevorD Aug 13 '13 at 12:42
  • I kind of cited the sentence, just putting "one method" and "the other" instead of the given methods. If I would provide extracts I would also have to give the origin and even if I would't you could copy the extract and easily find it using google. And as the paper is open source, you would get all the information I did not want to provide. I did my best in not changing the sentence in a grammatical sense. – skymningen Aug 13 '13 at 13:29
8

Toilless is not a word in common usage, which would explain why it is corrected by your word processor. It is derived from toilsome (as an opposite), circa the 16th century.

The meaning is quite intuitive, however.

Changing the oil in a car is a toilless task.

I would recommend choosing a different word, however, such as effortless.

  • That's exactly my problem. I intuitively knew what it means, but I still stumbled over it. – skymningen Aug 13 '13 at 12:24
2

Based on the pattern shown in this ngram, the word toilless was much more frequently used in the 19th and early twentieth century than now. You can see examples of the use by looking at the publications listed under each year range on that chart.

It is also interesting to note that the frequency of use of toilless and toil less are about the same throughout the reported periods..

  • Thank you! It is also very interesting that a lot of the more current usages are very likely to be texts citing older texts or having a more "historic/old-fashioned" topic. – skymningen Aug 13 '13 at 12:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.