AskDefine | Define worker

The Collaborative Dictionary

Worker \Work"er\, n.
One who, or that which, works; a laborer; a performer; as, a worker in brass. [1913 Webster] Professors of holiness, but workers of iniquity. --Shak. [1913 Webster]
(Zool.) One of the neuter, or sterile, individuals of the social ants, bees, and white ants. The workers are generally females having the sexual organs imperfectly developed. See Ant, and White ant, under White. [1913 Webster]

Word Net



1 a person who works at a specific occupation; "he is a good worker" [ant: nonworker]
2 a member of the working class (not necessarily employed); "workers of the world--unite!" [syn: proletarian, prole]
3 sterile member of a colony of social insects that forages for food and cares for the larvae
4 a person who acts and gets things done; "he's a principal actor in this affair"; "when you want something done get a doer"; "he's a miracle worker" [syn: actor, doer]

Moby Thesaurus

actor, agent, ant, architect, army ant, artisan, assistant, author, bee, black ant, blue-collar worker, brainworker, brassworker, breadwinner, bumblebee, carpenter ant, casual, casual laborer, clothworker, common laborer, craftsman, creator, day laborer, doer, drone, emmet, employee, executant, executor, executrix, fabricator, factory worker, fieldworker, fire ant, flintworker, flunky, free lance, free-lancer, full-time worker, garmentworker, girl Friday, glassworker, goldworker, hand, handicraftsman, hired hand, hired man, hireling, honeybee, hornet, house ant, industrial worker, ironworker, jobber, jobholder, laborer, laboring man, laceworker, leatherworker, maker, man Friday, mechanic, medium, menial, mercenary, metalworker, migrant, millworker, mineworker, moiler, mover, myrmidon, navvy, needleworker, office temporary, operant, operative, operator, pensioner, performer, perpetrator, pismire, practitioner, prime mover, producer, proletarian, queen, queen bee, red ant, right-hand man, roustabout, salaried worker, self-employed person, servant, slave ant, soldier, stiff, subject, temporary, termite, toiler, wage earner, wage slave, wageworker, wasp, workgirl, workhand, working girl, workingman, workingwoman, workman, yellow jacket



From to work + -er.



  1. A person who performs labor for his living, especially manual labor.
  2. A nonreproductive social insect, such as ant, bee, termite or wasp.


In economics, labour (or labor) is a measure of the work done by human beings. It is conventionally contrasted with such other factors of production as land and capital. There are theories which have created a concept called human capital (referring to the skills that workers possess, not necessarily their actual work), although there are also counter posing macro-economic system theories that think human capital is a contradiction in terms.

Compensation and measurement

Wage is a basic compensation for labour, and the compensation for labour per period of time is referred to as the wage rate. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
Other frequently used terms include:
  • wage = payment per unit of time (typically an hour)
  • earnings = payment accrued over a period (typically a week, a month, or a year)
  • total compensation = earnings + other benefits for labour
  • income = total compensation + unearned income
  • economic rent = total compensation - opportunity cost
Economists measure labour in terms of hours worked, total wages, or efficiency.
  • total cost = fixed cost + variable cost

Marxian economics

In Marxian economics, the aim of labour economics is to provide insight and guidance for the optimal allocation of cooperative human labour. However, this optimality is not simply viewed as a "technical variable" as in micro-economics, because workers are not simply a "factor of production", but human beings who organize themselves and each other. Forms of labour cooperation can be oppressive, irrational and exploitative, or they can be beneficial, rational, or effective. That is to say, labour economics has a political dimension insofar as different workers and employers have different interests. There is a workers' point of view and an employer's point of view.
Marxian economists argue that the reason why labour economics receives little attention is because it has become viewed as a management issue. But this may hide that a particular form of organizing labour has little to do with economic efficiency, and more with getting a high income from an activity. Marxian economists believe that ultimately the most desirable form of labour organization in the workplace is where workers manage themselves collectively, and elect managers where necessary; too much management is inefficient, it just means that people get high incomes for doing very little, capitalizing on specialized knowledge or qualifications.

External links

Further reading

  • Simon Head, The New Ruthless Economy. Work and Power in the Digital Age, Oxford UP 2005, ISBN 0-19-517983-8
  • L. Ali Khan, The Dignity of Labor
worker in Arabic: عمل (جهد)
worker in Catalan: Treball (economia)
worker in Czech: Dílo
worker in Danish: Arbejde (samfundsvidenskab)
worker in German: Arbeit (Ökonomie)
worker in Spanish: Trabajo (sociología)
worker in Esperanto: Verko
worker in French: Travail (économie)
worker in Korean: 노동
worker in Italian: Lavoro
worker in Hebrew: עבודה (כלכלה)
worker in Hungarian: Munkaerő
worker in Malay (macrolanguage): Kerja
worker in Dutch: Arbeid (economie)
worker in Japanese: 労働
worker in Polish: Praca (działalność człowieka)
worker in Portuguese: Trabalho (economia)
worker in Quechua: Ch'amanaku
worker in Russian: Труд
worker in Simple English: Labour (economics)
worker in Slovak: Práca (ekonómia)
worker in Finnish: Työ
worker in Swedish: Arbete
worker in Ukrainian: Праця
worker in Yiddish: ארבעט
worker in Chinese: 劳动
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