[on-thuh-job, awn-]


done, received, or happening while in actual performance of one's work: on-the-job training.

Origin of on-the-job

First recorded in 1935–40




a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price: She gave him the job of mowing the lawn.
a post of employment; full-time or part-time position: She was seeking a job as an editor.
anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility: It is your job to be on time.
an affair, matter, occurrence, or state of affairs: to make the best of a bad job.
the material, project, assignment, etc., being worked upon: The housing project was a long and costly job.
the process or requirements, details, etc., of working: It was a tedious job.
the execution or performance of a task: She did a good job.
Informal. a medical procedure or operation performed to improve the appearance of a specified part of the body (used in combination): a nose job; a boob job to enlarge her breasts.
Slang. a theft or similar criminal action: The police caught the gang that pulled that bank job.
a public or official act or decision carried through for the sake of improper private gain.
Slang. an example of a specific or distinctive type: That little six-cylinder job was the best car I ever owned.
Computers. a unit of work for a computer, generally comprising an application program or group of related programs and the data, linkages, and instructions to the operating system needed for running the programs.

verb (used without object), jobbed, job·bing.

to work at jobs or odd pieces of work; work by the piece.
to do business as a jobber.
to turn public business, planning, etc., improperly to private gain.

verb (used with object), jobbed, job·bing.

to assign or give (work, a contract for work, etc.) in separate portions, as among different contractors or workers (often followed by out): He jobbed out the contract to a number of small outfits.
to buy in large quantities, as from wholesalers or manufacturers, and sell to dealers in smaller quantities: He jobs shoes in Ohio and Indiana.
to get rid of or dispose of: His party jobbed him when he sought a second term in office.
to swindle or trick (someone): They jobbed him out of his property.
to carry on (public or official business) for improper private gain.


of or for a particular job or transaction.
bought, sold, or handled together: He's too big a customer to buy in less than job quantities.

Origin of job

1620–30; 1935–40 for def 15; origin uncertain

Synonyms for job

1. See task. 2. See position.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for on the job



an individual piece of work or task
an occupation; post of employment
an object worked on or a result produced from working
a duty or responsibilityher job was to cook the dinner
informal a difficult task or problemI had a job to contact him
a state of affairsmake the best of a bad job; it's a good job I saw you
informal a damaging piece of workhe really did a job on that
informal a crime, esp a robbery or burglary
informal an article or specimenthe new car was a nice little job
an instance of jobbery
computing a unit of work for a computer consisting of a single complete task submitted by a user
jobs for the boys appointments given to or created for allies or favourites
on the job
  1. actively engaged in one's employment
  2. British tabooengaged in sexual intercourse
just the job exactly what was required

verb jobs, jobbing or jobbed

(intr) to work by the piece or at casual jobs
to make a private profit out of (a public office, etc)
(intr usually foll by in)
  1. to buy and sell (goods or services) as a middlemanhe jobs in government surplus
  2. Britishto buy and sell stocks and shares as a stockjobberhe jobs in blue chips
(tr often foll by out) to apportion (a contract, work, etc) among several contractors, workers, etc

Word Origin for job

C16: of uncertain origin



Old Testament
  1. a Jewish patriarch, who maintained his faith in God in spite of the afflictions sent by God to test him
  2. the book containing Job's pleas to God under these afflictions, attempted explanations of them by his friends, and God's reply to him
any person who withstands great suffering without despairing
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 on the job



1660s, "to buy and sell as a broker," from job (n.). Meaning "to cheat, betray" is from 1903. Related: Jobbed; jobbing.



1550s, in phrase jobbe of worke "piece of work" (contrasted with continuous labor), of uncertain origin, perhaps a variant of gobbe "mass, lump" (c.1400; see gob) via sense of "a cart-load." Sense of "work done for pay" first recorded 1650s. Thieves' slang sense of "theft, robbery, a planned crime" is from 1722. Printing sense is from 1795. Slang meaning "specimen, thing, person" is from 1927.

job. (1) A low mean lucrative busy affair. (2) Petty, piddling work; a piece of chance work. [Johnson's Dictionary]

On the job "hard at work" is from 1882. Job lot is from obsolete sense of "cartload, lump," which might also ultimately be from gob. Job security attested by 1954; job description by 1920; job-sharing by 1972.


Biblical masc. proper name, from Hebrew Iyyobh, which according to some scholars is literally "hated, persecuted," from ayyabh "he was hostile to," related to ebhah "enmity." Others say it means "the penitent one."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for on the job



In the Old Testament, a man whose faith was severely tested by Satan, with God's permission. Job was the most prosperous and happy of men, who faithfully praised God for God's goodness. In order to get him to curse God, Satan destroyed all that Job owned, killed his children, and struck Job himself with vile sores from head to foot. False friends of Job's suggested that he should abandon his beliefs (see Job's comforters). But even in absolute misery, Job would not curse God, saying instead, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.” As a reward for his steadfast faith, God healed Job and “gave him twice as much as he had before.”


Figuratively, any long-suffering person can be said to be “as patient as Job.”
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.

Idioms and Phrases with on the job

on the job


At work, busy, as in We've got three men on the job. [Late 1800s]


Paying close attention, alert, as in Trust Jim to find out the details—he's always on the job.


see do a job on; hatchet man (job); lie down (on the job); on the job; put-up job; snow job; soft job.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.