While reading the book, Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future (amazon link), I came upon the following sentence:

I know I am laboring this point, but the reason for going through this example in excruciating detail is to understand exactly what information is used to arrive at this answer.

I believe that is an incorrect use of the word laboring and the author most likely intended to use belaboring, but I'm curious if the word laboring can be used in this way.

Dictionary.com gives belaboring as:

to explain, worry about, or work at (something) repeatedly or more than is necessary: He kept belaboring the point long after we had agreed.

2 Answers 2


They are two idiomatic expressions with the same meaning:

Labor this point, belabor this point

  • to try too hard to express an idea, feeling, or opinion, repeating it when this is not necessary. (TFD)
  • Ngram indicates that “labor the point,” (“to continue to repeat or explain something that has already been said and understood”) has been around for about 100 years longer than “belabor the point.” A Web search suggests that the two versions are now used interchangeably.


  • You ought to quote and cite that whole second bullet which is pretty much verbatim from "Daily Writing Tips'
    – Jim
    Mar 4, 2015 at 21:26
  • Thanks. I guess I'm new-school on this, because I like belaboring better in this instance. It seems to have a subtle difference in meaning that falls on the ear better.
    – raddevus
    Mar 4, 2015 at 21:27

As has been pointed out, there's no semantic difference - they're just two different versions of the same idiomatic usage. But in this case the spelling gives a more accurate indication of US/UK differences than Google's rather crude US/UK corpora (which are based on country of publication, not author nationality). And I think this chart is interesting...

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Without wishing to labour the point, I think it's pretty obvious AmE speakers switched to the longer word nearly half a century ago, but BrE speakers have mostly stuck with the original. Perhaps because AmE is more influenced by similar words that often occur in similar contexts (berate, beleaguer, beset, belittle, for example, always include the be- prefix in these senses).

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