noun, plural work·hous·es [wurk-hou-ziz] /ˈwɜrkˌhaʊ zɪz/.

a house of correction.
British. (formerly) a poorhouse in which paupers were given work.
Obsolete. a workshop.

Origin of workhouse

before 1100; Middle English werkhous, Old English weorchūs workshop. See work, house Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for workhouse

Historical Examples of workhouse

  • But if you tell the truth and say he's the decent fellow he is, he'll land you in the workhouse!

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • In this agreeable frame of mind I entered the workhouse of Liverpool.

  • I turned to the master of the workhouse, and asked him whether the men had any money?

  • But he was out on the pavement and getting into the workhouse van.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • Then I shall be able, without a qualm, to send Godfrey to the workhouse.

    The Red Hand of Ulster

    George A. Birmingham

British Dictionary definitions for workhouse



(formerly in England) an institution maintained at public expense where able-bodied paupers did unpaid work in return for food and accommodation
(in the US) a prison for petty offenders serving short sentences at manual labour
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