1 : to work hard : drudge
2 : to be in continuous agitation : churn, swirl
To be more specific: MOIL comes from the French verb "moiller," to make wet or dampen. Essentially, dirty work.
I work in a bakery, so my hands are often gunked up with sugar, chocolate, whipped cream, jam, etc. Just generally sticky. I also wash them frequently with antibacterial soap, so the skin on my fingers is often dry, raw, torn and discolored. When I look down at the effects years of MOILING have had on my hands, I think of Scarlett O'Hara going to Rhett in jail to gracefully beg for money:
You can drop the moonlight and magnolia, Scarlett. So, things have been going well at Tara, have they?
What have you been doing with your hands?
It's just that, I went riding last week without my gloves...
These don't belong to a lady—you've been working with them like a field hand.
The first time I saw Gone with the Wind I was in sixth grade and we were learning about the Civil War. I feel like most of this film went over the heads of the group of eleven and twelve-year-olds who stared blankly at the TV-on-wheels as it flashed images of Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. My teacher cried, more than once. The rest of us sat slumped on top of our desks, quietly and methodically removed candy from our pockets, and stared at the sunlight creeping in the quarter inch cracks between opaque blinds.
When I revisited the film a few years ago, the jail scene is one of the only ones that stuck with me from the first viewing. I remember Rhett grabbing and examining Scarlett's hands and exposing her lies. I remember looking down at my own eleven-year-old hands—dirty from outdoor play, cuticles shredded from habitual chewing, chipped, inexpensive nail polish. I knew then I would never be a lady.
It's a small price to pay, though. I enjoy dirty work. Being sticky and messy keeps me young at heart. I should make a bumper sticker that reads, "I'd rather be MOILING."