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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English liflode, from Old English līflād (course of life, conduct), from līf (life) +‎ lād (course, journey), later altered under the influence of lively, -hood. Compare life, lode.



livelihood (countable and uncountable, plural livelihoods)

  1. (obsolete) The course of someone's life; a person's lifetime, or their manner of living; conduct, behaviour. [10th-17thc.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter iij, in Le Morte Darthur, book I:
      wel said Merlyn I knowe a lord of yours in this land that is a passyng true man & a feithful / & he shal haue the nourysshyng of your child / & his name is sir Ector / & he is a lord of fair lyuelode in many partyes in Englond & walys
  2. A person's means of supporting themself. [from 14thc.]
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, V.4:
      But now, when Philtra saw my lands decay / And former livelod fayle, she left me quight [].
    • Addison
      the opportunities of gaining an honest livelihood
    • South
      It is their profession and livelihood to get their living by practices for which they deserve to forfeit their lives.
    • 2013, Matthew Claughton, The Guardian, (letter), 25 April:
      The legal profession believes that client choice is the best way of ensuring standards remain high, because a lawyer's livelihood depends upon their reputation.
  3. (now rare) Property which brings in an income; an estate. [from 15thc.]
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Acts V:
      Then sayde Peter: Ananias how is it that satan hath fillen thyne hert, thatt thou shuldest lye unto the holy goost, and kepe awaye parte off the pryce off thy lyvelod []?
  4. (obsolete) Liveliness; appearance of life.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)