make a living/livelihood


Senior Member
Hi all, I normally hear "make/earn a living" when people talk about making money to survive, but is it also correct to say "make/earn a livelihood"? For example:

He makes a livelihood by fixing furniture for others.

Many thanks!
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Livelihood: a means of securing the necessities of life.

    Living: An income sufficient to live on, or the means of earning it.
    (also an old term for a position within the Church)
    related idioms: make a living / do something for a living / think the world owes you a living /


    New Member
    Hi there!

    Sorry for reopening this thread again, but I've come across with the following sentence:

    "I've always been adventurous, even as a kid" he says through a broad grin, "and I've always had this uncontrollable urge to go travelling". It was this urge that inspired him to study linguistics at Cambridge University. "I knew I wanted to use languages to make my __________________, I just wasn't sure how".

    What word with the root "LIFE" does it suit better in the gap?

    I thought about make my living, but actually the solution a teacher gave me a few years ago was "make my livelihood", although I'm not sure if she was 100% right.

    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree with you, peektoman.

    One "makes a living" - it's a common collocation.

    I think this usage is typical:
    I make my living from writing.
    Writing is my livelihood.

    You can compare frequency of various phrases, using the two words:
    Google Ngram Viewer
    Google Ngram Viewer

    I'm not at all keen on "I wanted to use languages to make my livelihood", but I could easily say "He wanted to make languages his livelihood".

    Let's see what others have to say.
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