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From the phrase jobbe of work (“piece of work”), of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a variant of Middle English gobbe (“mass, lump”); or perhaps related to Middle English jobben (“to jab, thrust, peck”), or Middle English choppe (“piece, bargain”). More at gob, jab, chop.
Folk etymology linked the word to Job, the biblical character who suffered many misfortunes; for semantic development of misery and labor, compare Vulgar Latin *tripalium (“instrument of torture”) and its Romance descendants like Spanish trabajo and French travail (whence borrowed into English travail).
job (plural jobs)
- A task.
- An economic role for which a person is paid.
- (in noun compounds) Plastic surgery.
- (computing) A task, or series of tasks, carried out in batch mode (especially on a mainframe computer).
- (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought): A sudden thrust or stab; a jab.
- A public transaction done for private profit; something performed ostensibly as a part of official duty, but really for private gain; a corrupt official business.
- Any affair or event which affects one, whether fortunately or unfortunately.
- (colloquial) A thing (often used in a vague way to refer to something whose name one cannot recall).
- (intransitive) To do odd jobs or occasional work for hire.
- (intransitive) To work as a jobber.
- (intransitive, professional wrestling slang) To take the loss.
- (transitive, trading) To buy and sell for profit, as securities; to speculate in.
- (transitive, often with out) To subcontract a project or delivery in small portions to a number of contractors.
- (intransitive) To seek private gain under pretence of public service; to turn public matters to private advantage.
- To strike or stab with a pointed instrument.
- To thrust in, as a pointed instrument.
- To hire or let in periods of service.