- job (n.)
- "piece of work; something to be done," 1620s, from phrase jobbe of worke (1550s) "task, piece of work" (contrasted with continuous labor), a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps a variant of gobbe "mass, lump" (c. 1400; see gob) via sense of "a cart-load." Specific sense of "work done for pay" first recorded 1650s.
job. (1) A low mean lucrative busy affair. (2) Petty, piddling work; a piece of chance work. [Johnson's Dictionary]
Meaning "paid position of employment" is from 1858. Printers' slang sense "piece of work of a miscellaneous class" (posters, handbills, etc.) is from 1795, hence job-type (notably large or ornamental or of exceptional form), job-shop, etc. Job lot (1832) is from an obsolete sense of "cartload, lump," which might be a separate formation from gob.
The very broad general sense of "occurrence, business, state of things" is colloquial from c. 1700. In modern slang or colloquial use, "an example," especially a good one (of the thing indicated), 1927, "a term of wide application" [OED]. Thieves' slang sense of "theft, robbery, a planned crime" is from 1722. Slang meaning "specimen, thing, person" is from 1927. On the job "hard at work" is from 1882. Job security attested by 1932 (job insecurity by 1936); job description by 1920; job-sharing by 1972. Job-hunter is from 1928. The phrase job of work still appears as late as Trollope (1873).
- Biblical masc. proper name, name of an ancient patriarch whose story forms a book of the Old Testament, from Hebrew Iyyobh, which according to some scholars is literally "hated, persecuted," from ayyabh "he was hostile to," related to ebhah "enmity." Others say it means "the penitent one." Figurative of bad news, destitution, and patient endurance. Hence Job's comforter, of one who brings news of additional misfortune (1736).
- job (v.)
- 1660s, "to buy and sell as a broker" (intransitive), from job (n.). Meaning "deal in public stocks on one's own account" is from 1721. Meaning "to cheat, betray" is from 1903; earlier "pervert pubic service to private advantage" (1732). Related: Jobbed; jobbing.