hireling

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English hirling, hyrling, from Old English hȳrling (hireling, employee), from Proto-Germanic *hūzijōlingaz (hireling), equivalent to hire +‎ -ling. Cognate with West Frisian hierling, Dutch huurling (hireling, mercenary), German Low German Hüürling, German Heuerling.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

hireling (plural hirelings)

  1. (usually derogatory) An employee who is hired, often to perform unpleasant tasks with little independence.
    • 1611, King James Version, Job 7:1:
      Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?
    • 1848: William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Chapter 19:
      When my poor James was in the smallpox, did I allow any hireling to nurse him?
  2. (usually derogatory) Someone who does a job purely for money, rather than out of interest in the work itself.
    • 1605: Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning
      ... it may be truly affirmed that no kind of men love business for itself but those that are learned; for other persons love it for profit, as a hireling that loves the work for the wages;
    • 1821, Lord Byron, Sardanapalus, Act II, sc. 1:
      These vain bickerings
      Are spawn'd in courts by base intrigues and baser
      Hirelings, who live by lies on good men's lives.
  3. A horse for hire.
    • 1934, Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust, Chapter 3, Section 5:
      In the afternoon they went to a neighbouring livery stables to look for hirellings.
  4. (obsolete) A prostitute.

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