What Does Labor of Love Mean?

A Labor of Love Meaning

Definition: Work done for pleasure, rather than for profit.

Origin of Labor of Love

This expression first appeared in English in the King James Version of the Bible, published in the year 1611.

It appears in two Epistles of St. Paul.

First, in 1 Thessalonians 1:3:

  • Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Second, in Hebrews 6:10:

  • For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Labor is another word for work, so in this sense the expression is similar to the literal meaning. People often use it to describe work that has no monetary rewards, but that they are passionate about.

Examples of Labor of Love

labor of love definitionIn the dialogue below, two friends are talking about a project one of them has been working on.

Ezekiel: Guess what!

Maggie: What?

Ezekiel: I finally finished building that raft I told you about.

Maggie: Oh, great! I forget, who hired you to build that? It took up so much time and effort. I hope they are paying you a lot.

Ezekiel: No one is paying me anything. It’s a labor of love. It’s always been a dream of mine to build a raft and sail it to that island in the middle of the river. I set sail tomorrow!

meaning of labor of love In this example, two friends are discussing a gift that one of them got for his granddaughter.

Tyrion: I finally finished the gift for my granddaughter. It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it. Or, it will be worth it if she loves it.

Mila: What did you end up making her?

Tyrion: It’s a handmade quilt. I hope she’ll realize it was a true labor of love. I put many hours of work into it, and it caused me lots of stress, but I believe it shows how deeply I care for her. I wanted her to have something special and unique, just for her.

More Examples

This excerpt is about an actress and her husband who opened a popcorn shop because they wanted to, not because they had to.

  • The couple told the media their collaboration was a “labor of love” and if their “real Vermont cheddar,” “truffle parmesan” and “Canadian maple” recipes turned out to be a hit, they planned to open other shops elsewhere. –USA Today

This excerpt is about a man who is working to secure the city of Los Angeles as the location for the 2024 Olympics. No one is paying him to do this work, but he does it anyway because he loves sports and believes it will help his city.

  • “I think the Olympics are a special achievement for him, and really a labor of love for him,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has known Wasserman for more than 30 years. “I think he’s motivated by the fact that he can take these three passions and make something really special.” –USA Today


The phrase labor of love means work that a person does because they are passionate about it, not because they are making money from it.