I'm looking for a word or phrase to describe how something takes simple work, but a lot of it.

For example, sorting a stack of documents fits the bill as it is not hard if you had a few, but really hard when you have a stack of a few hundred of them.

In my language I would say something along the lines of "It's black work" (I don't think it has anything to do with black people...).

"Drudgery", on the other hand, doesn't seem to fit. According to some googling it seems it means simply hard work with no implication of said work being easy in small amounts.

Although, in Merriam-Webster the definition looks very close to what I'm looking for:

Full Definition of drudgery

plural drudg·er·ies

: dull, irksome, and fatiguing work : uninspiring or menial labor

What ruins it for me is the "fatiguing" part. Am I just misunderstanding and already have found my word?

  • Perhaps it's a chore!
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 11:50
  • Definitely true. Just not strong enough, I guess. Tedious feels like the right thing right now. Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 14:21

3 Answers 3


Tedious work

Collins dictionary:


causing fatigue or tedium; monotonous

"If you describe something such as a job, task, or situation as tedious, you mean it is boring and rather frustrating"


How about a monotonous work?

It means the kind of work that's not ​changing and ​therefore ​boring.


The term "handtime" is often used in business to refer to the amount of manual labor required for a task, as in "The project will be delayed due to the large amount of handtime." I can't find a good cite for it from my mobile, though.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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