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. – TRomano May 29 '16 at 10:54
  • 1
    Perhaps "menial" is the word you are looking for? – TheKB May 29 '16 at 11:13
  • 2
    "Grunt work" or (more rarely) "dog work" may be used to describe such situation. – Hot Licks May 29 '16 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 May 29 '16 at 11:48
  • I didn't notice HL already suggested "grunt work". – Fattie May 29 '16 at 11:57

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 May 29 '16 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?

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.