[ meyk-wurk ]
/ ˈmeɪkˌwɜrk /


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

Origin of make-work

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

Cultural definitions for 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.