- exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
- productive or operative activity.
- employment, as in some form of industry, especially as a means of earning one's livelihood: to look for work.
- one's place of employment: Don't phone him at work.
- something on which exertion or labor is expended; a task or undertaking: The students finished their work in class.
- materials, things, etc., on which one is working or is to work.
- the result of exertion, labor, or activity; a deed or performance.
- a product of exertion, labor, or activity: musical works.
- Often works. an engineering structure, as a building or bridge.
- a building, wall, trench, or the like, constructed or made as a means of fortification.
- (used with a singular or plural verb)a place or establishment for manufacturing (often used in combination): ironworks.
- the working parts of a machine: the works of a watch.
- Theology.righteous deeds.
- Physics. force times the distance through which it acts; specifically, the transference of energy equal to the product of the component of a force that acts in the direction of the motion of the point of application of the force and the distance through which the point of application moves.
- the works, Informal.
- everything; all related items or matters: a hamburger with the works.
- harsh or cruel treatment: to give someone the works.
- of, for, or concerning work: work clothes.
- shaped and planed; working.
- to do work; labor.
- to be employed, especially as a means of earning one's livelihood: He hasn't worked for six weeks.
- to be in operation, as a machine: The water should not be disconnected while the pump is working.
- to act or operate effectively: We all agree that this plan works.
- to attain a specified condition, as by repeated movement: The nails worked loose.
- to have an effect or influence, as on a person or on the mind or feelings of a person.
- to move in agitation, as the features under strong emotion.
- to make way with effort or under stress: The ship works to windward.
- Nautical. to give slightly at the joints, as a vessel under strain at sea.
- Machinery. to move improperly, as from defective fitting of parts or from wear.
- to undergo treatment by labor in a given way: This dough works slowly.
- to ferment, as a liquid.
- to use or manage (an apparatus, contrivance, etc.): It is easy to work the camera in this mobile device. She can work many power tools.
- to bring about (any result) by or as by work or effort: to work a change.
- to manipulate or treat by labor: to work butter.
- to put into effective operation.
- to operate (a mine, farm, etc.) for productive purposes: to work a coal mine.
- to carry on operations in (a district or region).
- to make, fashion, or execute by work.
- to achieve or win by work or effort: to work one's passage.
- to keep (a person, a horse, etc.) at work: She works her employees hard.
- to cause a strong emotion in: to work a crowd into a frenzy.
- to influence or persuade, especially insidiously: to work other people to one's will.
- Informal. to exploit (someone or something) to one's advantage: See if you can work your uncle for a new car. He worked his charm in landing a new job.
- to make or decorate by needlework or embroidery: She worked a needlepoint cushion.
- to cause fermentation in.
- work in/into,
- to bring or put in; add, merge, or blend: The tailor worked in the patch skillfully. Work the cream into the hands until it is completely absorbed.
- to arrange a time or employment for: The dentist was very busy, but said she would be able to work me in late in the afternoon. They worked him into the new operation.
- work off,
- to lose or dispose of, as by exercise or labor: We decided to work off the effects of a heavy supper by walking for an hour.
- to pay or fulfill by working: He worked off his debt by doing odd jobs.
- work on/upon, to exercise influence on; persuade; affect: I'll work on her, and maybe she'll change her mind.
- work out,
- to bring about by work, effort, or action.
- to solve, as a problem.
- to arrive at by or as by calculation.
- to pay (a debt) by working instead of paying money.
- to exhaust, as a mine.
- to issue in a result.
- to evolve; elaborate.
- to amount to (a total or specified figure); add up (to): The total works out to 176.
- to prove effective or successful: Their marriage just didn't work out.
- to practice, exercise, or train, especially in order to become proficient in an athletic sport: The boxers are working out at the gym tonight.
- work over,
- to study or examine thoroughly: For my term paper I worked over 30 volumes of Roman history.
- Informal.to beat unsparingly, especially in order to obtain something or out of revenge: They threatened to work him over until he talked.
- work through, to deal with successfully; come to terms with: to work through one's feelings of guilt.
- work up,
- to move or stir the feelings; excite.
- to prepare; elaborate: Work up some plans.
- to increase in efficiency or skill: He worked up his typing speed to 70 words a minute.
- work up to, rise to a higher position; advance: He worked up to the presidency.
- at work,
- working, as at one's job: He's at work on a new novel.
- in action or operation: to see the machines at work.
- gum up the works, Slang. to spoil something, as through blundering or stupidity: The surprise party was all arranged, but her little brother gummed up the works and told her.
- in the works, in preparation or being planned: A musical version of the book is in the works.
- make short work of, to finish or dispose of quickly: We made short work of the chocolate layer cake.
- out of work, unemployed; jobless: Many people in the area were out of work.
- shoot the works, Slang. to spend all one's resources: Let's shoot the works and order the crêpes suzette.
- work it, Informal.
- to arrange something: I'll try to work it so that we can all travel together.
- to show off one’s body or clothing to best effect, often through movement or posing: The models were working it on the runway. Work it on the dance floor, baby!
Origin of work
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- physical or mental effort directed towards doing or making something
- paid employment at a job or a trade, occupation, or profession
- a duty, task, or undertaking
- something done, made, etc, as a result of effort or exertiona work of art
- materials or tasks on which to expend effort or exertion
- another word for workmanship (def. 3)
- the place, office, etc, where a person is employed
- any piece of material that is undergoing a manufacturing operation or process; workpiece
- decoration or ornamentation, esp of a specified kind
- (in combination)wirework; woolwork
- an engineering structure such as a bridge, building, etc
- physics the transfer of energy expressed as the product of a force and the distance through which its point of application moves in the direction of the forceAbbreviation: W, w
- a structure, wall, etc, built or used as part of a fortification system
- at work
- at one's job or place of employment
- in action; operating
- make short work of informal to handle or dispose of very quickly
- (modifier) of, relating to, or used for workwork clothes; a work permit
- (intr) to exert effort in order to do, make, or perform something
- (intr) to be employed
- (tr) to carry on operations, activity, etc, in (a place or area)that salesman works the southern region
- (tr) to cause to labour or toilhe works his men hard
- to operate or cause to operate, esp properly or effectivelyto work a lathe; that clock doesn't work
- (tr) to till or cultivate (land)
- to handle or manipulate or be handled or manipulatedto work dough
- to shape, form, or process or be shaped, formed, or processedto work copper
- to reach or cause to reach a specific condition, esp graduallythe rope worked loose
- (tr) mainly US and Canadian to solve (a mathematical problem)
- (intr) to move in agitationhis face worked with anger
- (tr often foll by up) to provoke or arouseto work someone into a frenzy
- (tr) to effect or accomplishto work one's revenge
- to make (one's way) with efforthe worked his way through the crowd
- (tr) to make or decorate by hand in embroidery, tapestry, etcshe was working a sampler
- (intr) (of a mechanism) to move in a loose or otherwise imperfect fashion
- (intr) (of liquids) to ferment, as in brewing
- (tr) informal to manipulate or exploit to one's own advantage
- (tr) slang to cheat or swindle
Word Origin and History for at work
Old English weorc, worc "something done, deed, action, proceeding, business, military fortification," from Proto-Germanic *werkan (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch werk, Old Norse verk, Middle Dutch warc, Old High German werah, German Werk, Gothic gawaurki), from PIE root *werg- "to work" (see urge (v.)).
Work is less boring than amusing oneself. [Baudelaire, "Mon Coeur mis a nu," 1862]
In Old English, the noun also had the sense of "fornication." Workhouse in the sense of "place where the poor or petty criminals are lodged" first appeared 1650s. Works "industrial place" (usually with qualifying adj.) is attested from 1580s. Work ethic recorded from 1959.
a fusion of Old English wyrcan (past tense worhte, past participle geworht), from Proto-Germanic *wurkijanan; and Old English wircan (Mercian) "to work, operate, function," formed relatively late from Proto-Germanic noun *werkan (see work (n.)). Related: Worked; working. Working class is from 1789 as a noun, 1839 as an adjective.
- The transfer of energy from one object to another, especially in order to make the second object move in a certain direction. Work is equal to the amount of force multiplied by the distance over which it is applied. If a force of 10 newtons, for example, is applied over a distance of 3 meters, the work is equal to 30 newtons per meter, or 30 joules. The unit for measuring work is the same as that for energy in any system of units, since work is simply a transfer of energy. Compare energy power.
Idioms and Phrases with at work
Engaged in a job or other activity, as in The contractor is hard at work on the new building, or The little boy was fascinated to see the washing machine at work. [Early 1600s]
At one's office or other place of business, as in Is it all right if I telephone you at work? [Late 1800s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with work
- work both sides of the street
- worked up, be
- work in
- work it
- work like a beaver
- work like a charm
- work off
- work on
- work one's fingers to the bone
- work one's way
- work out
- work over
- work up
- work wonders