From Middle English hirlyng, from Old English hȳrling (“hireling, employee”), from Proto-West Germanic *hūʀijuling. Cognate with West Frisian hierling, Dutch huurling (“hireling, mercenary”), German Low German Hüürling, German Heuerling.
hireling (plural hirelings)
- (usually derogatory) An employee who is hired, often to perform unpleasant tasks with little independence.
- (usually derogatory) Someone who does a job purely for money, rather than out of interest in the work itself.
- 1605, Francis Bacon, “The First Booke”, in The Twoo Bookes of Francis Bacon. Of the Proficience and Aduancement of Learning, Diuine and Humane, London: […] [Thomas Purfoot and Thomas Creede] for Henrie Tomes, […], →OCLC, folio 10, recto:
- […] it may bee truely affirmed, that no kinde of men loue buſineſſe for it ſelfe, but thoſe that are learned; for other perſons loue it for profite; as an hireling that loues the worke for the wages;
- 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.
- (obsolete) A prostitute.