Last modified on 16 December 2014, at 10:18




From Middle English, from Old English hȳrling (hireling, employee), from Proto-Germanic *hūzijōlingaz (hireling), equivalent to hire +‎ -ling. Cognate with Dutch huurling (hireling, mercenary).



hireling (plural hirelings)

  1. (usually pejorative) an employee who is hired, often to perform unpleasant tasks with little independence
    • 1848: William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
      When my poor James was in the smallpox, did I allow any hireling to nurse him?
  2. (usually pejorative) 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;