make-work

[ meyk-wurk ]
/ ˈmeɪkˌwɜrk /

noun

work, usually of little importance, created to keep a person from being idle or unemployed.

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Origin of make-work

1935–40, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase make work
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Cultural definitions for make-work

make-work

Publicly provided employment that is designed primarily to relieve unemployment and only incidentally to accomplish important tasks. If private employers are hiring few people because of a business slump, the government can “make work” for people to do.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.