Can one used the word manual work to define a process of a nonphysical work, where there is no need of skills, it is monotonic and there is a lack of automatization?

For example: Someone creates photographs and then each photo has to be renamed (one by one) without a script doing it. How do you call this part of the job?

I seek a word to address every process of the job that has this feature. For example in this sentence: Photographers are able to avoid "manual work" with modern automatised software.

  • We can say "must be renamed manually" since some typing or writing is involved with each renaming.
    – TimR
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 10:54
  • 1
    Perhaps "menial" is the word you are looking for?
    – TheKB
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 11:13
  • 2
    "Grunt work" or (more rarely) "dog work" may be used to describe such situation.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 11:44
  • this sort of "tedious, computer-related" work is sometimes called "monkey-" work. along the lines of "you need a photoshop monkey for a few hours". {conversely though, that can be used sort of sarcastically to refer to a $4000 a day designer, you know.}
    – Fattie
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 11:48
  • I didn't notice HL already suggested "grunt work".
    – Fattie
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 11:57

2 Answers 2


The task you describe seems more like clerical work, than manual work. The term "clerical work" has the same boring, mundane, "wish there was a machine to do this for me" connotations as "manual work" - but, it is more appropriate for office-type labor. (As opposed to physical labor)

  • Perhaps that's the best general answer - - or maybe, just "office work". "What sort of summer job have you got?" "Just office work." Hell, maybe "desk job" is an answer.
    – Fattie
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 12:14

Might be slightly offensive in some contexts, but suitable here:

Two-bit paper-pushing, a mix of two idioms:


1. Informal Costing or worth 25 cents: "a two-bit cigar".
2. Slang Worth very little; petty or insignificant: "a two-bit thief".


n. informal.
1. a person who has a routine desk job.
2. bureaucrat.

An interesting ELU question: What does 'two-bit paper pusher' mean?

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