[ verb out-wurk; noun out-wurk ]
See synonyms for outwork on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object),out·worked or out·wrought, out·work·ing.
  1. to work harder, better, or faster than.

  2. to work out or carry on to a conclusion; finish: a problem to be outworked in after generations.

  1. Archaic. to outdo in workmanship.

  1. a minor defense built or established outside the principal fortification limits.

Origin of outwork

1200–50; Middle English: to complete; see out-, work

Other words from outwork

  • outworker, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use outwork in a sentence

  • Despotism cannot fetter thought—that is free everywhere—but it can and does restrain its outworking into practical action.

    Stanley's Adventures in the Wilds of Africa | Joel Tyler Headley and William Fletcher Johnson
  • In such feeble tendencies, be it known, such outworking of desire to reproduce life, lies the basis of all dramatic art.

    Sister Carrie | Theodore Dreiser
  • The outworking of the coup de main was a triumph for the old borderer's shrewd generalship.

    The Master of Appleby | Francis Lynde
  • He sees the Rebellion as it is,—the outbreak and outworking of that spirit which makes hell horrible.

  • In effect, the outworking of it meant a strictly defensive attitude in Africa, and in the north a naval siege of Germany.

    The Message | Alec John Dawson

British Dictionary definitions for outwork


  1. (often plural) defences which lie outside main defensive works

  2. work performed away from the factory, office, etc, by which it has been commissioned

verb(ˌaʊtˈwɜːk) -works, -working, -worked or -wrought (tr)
  1. to work better, harder, etc, than

  2. to work out to completion

Derived forms of outwork

  • outworker, noun

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