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groundwork

[ground-wurk]
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noun
  1. foundation or basis: He laid the groundwork for an international conference.
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Origin of groundwork

First recorded in 1540–50; ground1 + work
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for groundwork

groundwork

noun
  1. preliminary work as a foundation or basis
  2. the ground or background of a painting, etc
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for groundwork

n.

mid-15c., from ground (n.) + work (n.). Cf. Middle Dutch grontwerck, Dutch grondwerk, German grundwerk. Originally "the solid base on which a structure is built;" figurative sense is from 1550s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper