Definition of work in English:

work

noun

mass noun
  • 1Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

    ‘he was tired after a day's work in the fields’
    • ‘Too many of us are still attached to the outdated belief that success comes from a result of hard work.’
    • ‘This is the result of a lot of research, a lot of work, a lot of effort over a very long time.’
    • ‘The team is now finally seeing the results of their hard work done during the test sessions and in the first few races.’
    • ‘The students must come first: they are the ones who actively do the work and achieve the results.’
    • ‘Growing crops was a very hit and miss affair and a successful crop was due to a lot of hard work but also the result of some luck.’
    • ‘We owe it to our customers and to our funders to show them the results of our work.’
    • ‘It's just a tribute to all of the hard work and effort that's gone into the program by our teams and drivers.’
    • ‘But picking the olives is hard physical work, and the rewards are far from certain.’
    • ‘Even then there was congestion on the bridge as a result of resurfacing work.’
    • ‘He knows that time, hard work, dedication and effort are the only way a team can be built.’
    • ‘By your hard work and your effort, you are actively advancing the growth of our nation.’
    • ‘This is the result of much hard work throughout the council to drive up standards.’
    • ‘That means half a kilo per day will keep a man doing heavy physical work.’
    • ‘The pain may result in inability to do routine work or household activities.’
    • ‘He has put a lot of effort into his pre-season work and not only with his bikes.’
    • ‘Starting the business was hard work but Angela's efforts are finally paying off.’
    • ‘Much work and effort has been put into the event by the organisers and events committee.’
    • ‘Brilliant breakthroughs can emerge as a result of hard work and disciplined effort.’
    • ‘The show was a mixture of theatrics, gymnastics, acting and physical hard work.’
    • ‘Be it as a player or a coach or otherwise success only comes as a result of hard work and effort.’
    labour, toil, exertion, effort, slog, drudgery, the sweat of one's brow
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.
      ‘I'm still looking for work’
      • ‘The firm set up a mini job centre on site to help employees find new work.’
      • ‘This trip is to provide relief and training to a new recruit into my line of work.’
      • ‘With their matching broken noses, the three left the pub in pursuit of a less hazardous line of work.’
      • ‘After I met with him, it was clear that his personality didn't entirely mesh with his line of work.’
      • ‘He does not say anything about his prospect of finding work or the efforts he is making.’
      • ‘He said it was essential that a programme was put in place to help Parker Knoll employees find new work or retrain.’
      • ‘It is known to be the case that it is more difficult to find alternative employment whilst out of work than whilst in work.’
      • ‘Anything that has to do with my line of work, I'm the one everyone in my company calls.’
      • ‘We have secured revenue streams through consultancy work and product income.’
      • ‘Clarks said it would provide support to employees seeking alternative work.’
      • ‘The younger Byer tried a different line of work early in his career, but it was not meant to be.’
      • ‘It's for six months which is really good for an actress to get so much work and a steady income.’
      • ‘Many feel on edge and one woman claimed to have given up work as a result of the stress.’
      • ‘Tade could turn his hand to any type of work and earned his living from his own expertise.’
      • ‘Isn't she afraid of the competition that is suddenly surfacing in her line of work?’
      • ‘John was a well known and accomplished tailor and was gifted in that line of work.’
      • ‘Sometimes he thinks about this but he can always justify his line of work.’
      • ‘This will affect them in later life and may hamper their efforts to find work, she said.’
      • ‘With remarkable royal originality, the Prince first inquired as to Ron's line of work.’
      • ‘In my situation, one of the reasons why I have remained here, is because of my line of work.’
      employment, job, day job, post, position, situation, means of earning one's living, occupation, profession, career, business, trade, line
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The place where one is employed.
      ‘I was returning home from work on a packed subway’
      • ‘Popping any bonuses you receive from work will earn tax relief too, so you'll hang onto more of your money!’
      • ‘Hopefully, Daniel would be able to cast some light upon her whereabouts when he returned from work.’
      • ‘Naburn residents left for work today with little hope that they would be able to return this evening.’
      • ‘On the day of his death, he returned from work as usual, exercised the dog, and went to sleep in the front bedroom.’
      • ‘Three hours later, smoke was seen coming from her door by a person returning from work.’
      • ‘I got in from work and spent an hour or so rubbing down a radiator in the dining room, I then masked it up and sprayed it.’
      • ‘Then we'd have to have transportation to and from work, so that meant we'd have to buy a car.’
      • ‘The unprovoked attack happened as he returned from work earlier this month.’
      • ‘I dropped the car off and walked to the nearby station to catch the train into work.’
      • ‘I caught one of my consultant colleagues sneaking into work with one under his arm.’
      • ‘One of the main problems is that owners are too affectionate with their dogs when they return from work.’
      • ‘Yesterday a very large cardboard box was waiting for me when I returned from work.’
      • ‘Mrs Jenkins knew nothing about the scam until her bank called one evening when she returned from work.’
      • ‘Alteration in lifestyle involves a reduction in physical activity in work and the home.’
      • ‘By the time her flatmates return from work, the victim has become the oppressor.’
      • ‘Simply mow the grass once a week to provide lush new growth that you can plunge your bare feet into when you return from work.’
      • ‘Her husband returned from work later in the day and wondered what on earth was going on.’
      • ‘However we had to get going as I'd promised to pop into work briefly to check out my new laptop.’
    3. 1.3 The period of time one spends in paid employment.
      ‘he was going to the theatre after work’
      • ‘He was referring to a woman who worked as a clerk at a police chowky and had not reported for work for days.’
      • ‘Drivers can turn up for work and report that they have taken medication, and are unsure if they are fit to drive.’
      • ‘He asked not to be named as he was late for work as a result of the delay and did not want his employers to know.’
      • ‘Union members who have broken the strike to return to work would be able to vote, to the fury of some of their colleagues.’
      • ‘Most employees arriving for work early today had only heard about the merger on the early morning news.’
      • ‘Looked at the timetable for work over the next fortnight, I'm down some hours but it's not too bad.’
      • ‘Bloody Leo meets Paddy at the bar after work and is once again looking down in the dumps.’
      • ‘Flags flew at half-mast and non-essential staff were told not to report for work.’
      • ‘Flexible working is a range of options designed to help employees balance work and home life.’
      • ‘On the third day, he decided to report for work at the KFC, acting as if nothing had happened.’
    4. 1.4West Indian count noun A job.
      ‘I decided to get a work’
      • ‘With them movements she was a gwaan wid, she could easily hold a work as a Go Go in any one of our popular night spots.’
      • ‘Now that his show has been suspended, unemployed Chris has picked up his cutlass and is looking for a work.’
      job, day job, profession, line of work, line of business, trade, employment, position, post, situation, business, career, métier, vocation, calling, craft, skill, field, province, walk of life
      View synonyms
  • 2A task or tasks to be undertaken.

    ‘they made sure the work was progressing smoothly’
    • ‘There were no signs of any work having recently been undertaken or completed.’
    • ‘I recognise that you may not have undertaken any work for the police early in 2001.’
    • ‘Work was originally due to take place in November but a delay in the arrival of materials meant the work had to be put back a month.’
    • ‘He has done a small number of private commissions but has undertaken no major painting work.’
    • ‘Also, is it reasonable to stipulate that no work be undertaken over the weekend?’
    • ‘Remedial work has now been undertaken and a small population continues to survive there.’
    • ‘Their work uses industrial materials such as steel plates, cables, magnets and oil.’
    • ‘A programme of repair and maintenance work was undertaken on parts of Hadrian's Wall.’
    • ‘The plan was in the process of being implemented and an enormous amount of work had been undertaken.’
    • ‘It is they who decide what work is undertaken and who gets employed and paid and so on.’
    • ‘The work undertaken in support of the Decade for Human Rights Education is one example of this.’
    • ‘Some of his early years were spent over in England where he undertook a variety of work.’
    • ‘It will be strictly not for profit and much of the renovation work will be undertaken by volunteers.’
    • ‘Twelve men have been flown in to make sure refitting work is finished on time.’
    • ‘Undertaking this work may disturb the sediment and release the contaminants in the water.’
    • ‘He undertook this work for seven years and showed reals talents in his job.’
    • ‘An area action plan will be produced which details when and how that work will be undertaken.’
    • ‘The successful bid would include a specification of the work and materials and prices.’
    • ‘Our trip was very successful as we undertook a lot of work for the orphanage in the week we were there.’
    • ‘He will not therefore be undertaking any work within the cathedral until this matter is concluded.’
    tasks, jobs, duties, assignments, commissions, projects
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 The materials for a task.
      ‘she frequently took work home with her’
      • ‘He is often at the office until 8pm and always brings work home.’
      • ‘Type A people are highly competitive. They typically work long hours and regularly take work home.’
      • ‘Instead of taking work with you, spend some time ensuring urgent matters are dealt with before you take your break.’
    2. 2.2in combination or with modifier worksBritish Activity involving construction or repair.
      ‘extra costs caused by additional building works’
      • ‘Of course they attend to a few repair works of less significance, which involve a sum that does not pinch their purse.’
      • ‘Cement, also a must in construction works, can also be produced from sea sand.’
      • ‘After the end of the summer season, coastal construction works are once again underway.’
      • ‘The way in which highway construction works will be conducted will be discussed in March 2006.’
      • ‘The goal of the trip was to familiarise officials with the construction works of MNG in the resort and was paid for by the company.’
      • ‘No additional excavation works were undertaken and no verge crossing was made.’
      • ‘In addition to the repair works, part of the HLF money has been allocated for a training programme in heritage skills.’
      • ‘But the Turkish companies failed to fulfil their engagements in the construction works.’
      • ‘Normally, the workers in these construction works are from outside Kerala.’
      • ‘Drivers will be relieved to hear that the end of the road is in sight for the long-term repair works near Ashton Keynes.’
      • ‘It may be because there are bound to be some changes during repair works, he adds.’
      • ‘As per Mr Singh's statement on Monday, the road repair works should have commenced from Tuesday.’
      • ‘The only explanation would be that people participated in rehabilitation and construction works.’
      • ‘The mobile barriers plus various internal defence construction works will not prevent all flooding indefinitely.’
      • ‘The road goes through a number of impoverished regions, and it is hoped that construction works will breathe life into them.’
      • ‘Tucked away between the rubble of building works was my host's modest home.’
      • ‘Pavements are not meant for walking, they are for repair works, changing tiles.’
      • ‘It also involves management of daily maintenance and minor repairs and improvement works.’
      • ‘Delay in construction works, however, led to the necessity for the purchase of 313 trailers.’
      • ‘The railway and road construction works require the removal of land mines strewn across the demilitarized zone.’
    3. 2.3informal Cosmetic plastic surgery.
      ‘between you and me, I think he's had some work done’
      • ‘I think he might be my fave celeb even if he has had a bit of 'work'.’
      • ‘Why would she have had work? She still looks gorgeous.’
      • ‘If her face has had a lot of work, then it's probably more likely that all sorts of other things have, too.’
      • ‘She's obviously had work done to her nose.’
      • ‘Knifeless work on men, including botox injections, has increased 722 percent since 1997.’
      • ‘The plastic surgeon says he has done work on celebrities, but he won't name names because of patient confidentiality.’
      • ‘The ironic thing is that when younger women get all that work done, they end up looking older.’
      • ‘She seems to have had so much work done, subtle and not so subtle, that she looks like a marmorealized version of herself.’
      • ‘Today every woman I know has had a face-lift - or, as they say, work done - with good and bad results.’
      • ‘I think her breasts have definitely had work done.’
    4. 2.4worksTheology Good or moral deeds.
      ‘the Clapham sect was concerned with works rather than with faith’
      • ‘How can I do good works if I am physically not able to work?’
      • ‘For no matter how good our deeds or works may be, they cannot satisfy God 100%.’
      • ‘Indeed, evangelical Christians should be foremost in good deeds and leaders in works of charity.’
      • ‘Abraham was justified by works when he offered Isaac.’
      • ‘You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.’
  • 3A thing or things done or made; the result of an action.

    ‘her work hangs in all the main American collections’
    ‘the bombing had been the work of a German-based cell’
    • ‘The audience to one of his films shown at the Berlin Film Festival jeered his work as it was being screened.’
    • ‘Thanks so much for your work, both on screen and in books, graphic and otherwise.’
    • ‘Of course he endured it all, but he didn't want it to disturb his creative work.’
    • ‘It seems in some ways more of a challenge for him than getting his work hung in the National Galleries.’
    • ‘For creative work, cats are excellent to contemplate when they are in repose.’
    • ‘Fred is a retired vet who still does locum veterinary work and also plays 18 holes of golf twice a week.’
    • ‘The only living artist to have his work hung in the Natyet resonates with images of his Dublin Bay home.’
    • ‘Since then her career has developed in opera, concert work, recording and broadcasting.’
    • ‘It's kind of a financial and moral thing about owning your own creative work.’
    • ‘Perhaps that explains why there have been few truly satisfying screen adaptations of his work.’
    • ‘So with the movie work, the baby and the wife, does Phillippe have a hard time taking stock of it all?’
    • ‘But of course that is the same reason why his work hangs in museums round the world.’
    • ‘The blossoming romance made me ill, a lot of the blue screen work left me unimpressed.’
    • ‘Much of Morrison's work is autobiographical but he says this is his most personal project yet.’
    • ‘I have finally got round to putting some of my work down on screen for everyone to read.’
    • ‘Still, she is hanging my work and will be sainted for it, in a weak moment I might have given her one.’
    • ‘We did a lot of set-piece work, but later on we did come across Panzer and Tiger tanks.’
    • ‘Principals may take the limelight in a musical but chorus work is the lifeblood of it.’
    • ‘Young filmmakers hoping to make it in the movies are showcasing their work next week.’
    • ‘Looking back, it is clear that it is this interest in real people which saves Boorman's movie work.’
    handiwork, doing, act, deed, feat, performance
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1count noun A literary or musical composition or other piece of art.
      ‘a work of fiction’
      • ‘While the art embraces stories and traditions going back centuries, most of the works were produced in the last decade.’
      • ‘When The Beatles broke up, the individual members produced works like Imagine, All Things Must Pass and Mind Games.’
      • ‘The wee man was a big artist, producing some huge works including a triptych around two metres high.’
      • ‘On the other hand, materials for producing these works might need to be transported from home.’
      • ‘Has it led people to deal with it more as a literary work and less as a media event?’
      • ‘It's a work of exactitude in literature not rivalled outside Tristram Shandy.’
      • ‘Both move me almost to tears in places and are mature works from artists at the peak of their creative powers.’
      • ‘Recently she has focused on her travels to India and Italy to produce works which evoke the spirit of those places with an overwhelming intensity.’
      • ‘Hiding behind humour, he was intensely aware of his inability to produce works of political significance.’
      • ‘The Erotokritos, one of the epic works of Greek literature is told and re-told in much of Cretan music.’
      • ‘He also noted that many fine artists could produce magnificent works of equine art on commission.’
      • ‘Now he is penning plays, musicals and literary works, and his new audience requires a different kind of chap altogether.’
      • ‘It makes no sense to assume that a university should be assessing the market value of works produced by their fine arts students.’
      • ‘Her Magnum Opus Project is commissioning nine new orchestral works and six new compositions.’
      • ‘On display now at schools throughout Pattaya are works produced by children based on the theme of children's rights.’
      • ‘Imported textiles are often used as a base, and artistic batik works are produced for the tourist market.’
      • ‘The hands of the artist or artisan are supposed to produce unique, original works.’
      • ‘They can be read from right to left as a book, and often accompany works of literature.’
      • ‘An earlier pair of works convey the operatic extremes of Brooks's passion for Rubinstein.’
      • ‘Two of the works produced by the artist in residence will be given to the Central Akademi.’
      composition, piece, creation, achievement, accomplishment
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2works The artistic production of a particular author, composer, or artist, regarded collectively.
      ‘the works of Schubert fill several feet of shelf space’
      • ‘The pieces recalled the boxed works of Cornell, Beuys, and even Keens or Hirst.’
      • ‘Fascinating tales of Romeo and Juliet were among Mr David's favorite pieces of Shakespeare's works.’
      • ‘Few regular readers of Parameters will be unfamiliar with the works of Ralph Peters.’
      • ‘After the death of Liszt in 1888, there was contention among the critical hierarchy over the musical value of his works.’
      • ‘The Golden Age produced the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Dutch masters.’
      • ‘Handel's comparisons of the works of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu are nothing short of brilliant.’
      • ‘Collectors who have snapped up his works include multi-millionaire composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.’
      • ‘As the name signifies, it will focus on either one of the more melodious Carnatic raagas or the works of a famous composer.’
      • ‘Folklore and religious places are key elements in artist Sunil's works.’
      • ‘The only artist whose works directly convey a form of social commentary is Sopko.’
      • ‘You have a right to love her literary works; and I have a right not to.’
      • ‘They did not know foreign languages and did not seem to appreciate scholars' works.’
      • ‘The works of Mawdudi were translated into Arabic and other languages as early as 1940.’
      • ‘Leonardo was extremely fastidious, but Nicholl reminds us that his exquisite works were the product of titanic labours.’
      • ‘Based on the works of author H.P. Lovecraft, the title depicts a world steeped in evil and chaos.’
      • ‘Little, however, has been known about the shy schoolmaster who produced these works, some of which he wrote with his brother.’
      • ‘The most telling piece of Block's works sits shyly under a window.’
      • ‘The other principle the artist followed was the artistic value of the works.’
      • ‘Crossing the barriers of vernacular literature, her works have been read by more people and she has been able to create a niche of her own.’
      • ‘The South Bank plays host to a month-long retrospective of the English composer's works.’
      writings, oeuvre, canon, output
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3 A piece of embroidery, sewing, or knitting, typically made using a specified stitch or method.
      • ‘Walker contributed a sewn work entitled Sampler that featured the embroidered text, ‘Wife is a four-letter word’.’
      • ‘The back flowed out smoothly around Leira and the veil, when she had it on, fell gracefully from a small silver tiara, a delicate work of spring leaves and dainty frosted lilies.’
      • ‘The chikan work of Lucknow is perhaps one of the most popular embroidery works in India.’
  • 4worksBritish treated as singular A place or premises in which industrial or manufacturing processes are carried out.

    ‘he found a job in the locomotive works’
    • ‘I look around me at work and I see where my colleagues go: the coffee room, the vending machine, the works canteen.’
    • ‘Amicus has members in car plants, factories, chemical works, and across industry.’
    • ‘It is time now for more hard work to be done so that this vital manufacturing works can be saved, ensuring that York's past can again become its future.’
    • ‘There, hugely expanding under various names and ownerships, it produced gas until the works closed in 1955.’
    • ‘Not bad for an outfit that began with one man in a former cocoa works, operating on a one-year-only grant of £15,000.’
    • ‘Thihicarm armories have their works here, the best in a dozen kingdoms.’
    • ‘The first of these is the Civil Engineering Works associated with the construction of the treatment works.’
    • ‘The Victorian homes are built on the site of a former brick and tile works.’
    • ‘The first commercial oil shale works were constructed at Port Kembla in 1865.’
    • ‘There had been some concern expressed about the safety of the site, which had previously been a coal mine, an oil refinery and a chemical works.’
    • ‘The works will produce top-quality colour magazines, catalogues and newspaper supplements.’
    • ‘The houses are built on the site of a former brick and tile works, where clay was extracted and the resulting hole filled with landfill.’
    • ‘The company's 10 workers escaped without injury, but part of the works roof and machinery is badly damaged.’
    • ‘He said the company's chief executive Andrew Mazimba was in Zimbabwe to bring part of the machinery for the mining works.’
    • ‘He later became known as the Hammerman Poet after his work as a hammerman in the steam hammer shop at the works.’
    factory, plant, manufacturing complex, mill, foundry, yard, industrial unit, business unit
    View synonyms
  • 5worksThe operative part of a clock or other machine.

    ‘she could almost hear the tick of its works’
    • ‘The fumes of the kerosene loosen the dirt, which falls into the cotton wool, leaving the works of the clock clean.’
    • ‘His body had already begun to break down and he was virtually a being of energy as he ricocheted into the works of the clock.’
    • ‘It is not necessary to remove the L bracket from the works of the clock.’
    • ‘Once the works are removed, the gears will be visible as shown below.’
    mechanism, machinery, workings, working parts, parts, movement, action
    View synonyms
  • 6usually worksMilitary
    count noun A defensive structure.

    ‘just north of the fort were trenches and the freshly reconstructed patriot siege works’
    • ‘Many of these later military works can be seen, including secret wartime tunnel systems.’
    • ‘On the left bank of the river, the works lie north of the present city of Samarra, which is a walled city.’
    • ‘This is manifested in the elaborate defensive works of banks and ditches erected to fortify dominating hilltops.’
  • 7Physics
    The exertion of force overcoming resistance or producing molecular change.

    • ‘The walker's muscles must do this amount of work, to replace the lost kinetic energy, in every step.’
    • ‘For example, if you push on a box (apply a force) and it moves three feet, work has been performed BY you to the box, while work has been performed ON the box.’
    • ‘Energy in the form of work would have to be imparted to the object by an external force in order for it to gain this height and the corresponding potential energy.’
    • ‘So lifting a flea a small distance is more work than holding a heavy weight stationary.’
  • 8the worksinformal Everything needed, desired, or expected.

    ‘the heavens put on a show: sheet lightning, hailstones, the works’
    • ‘Did he give you the works? The flowers, the kisses, knew all the right things to say?’
    • ‘We have the works: pedicure, nails painted, eyelashes tinted, highlights.’
    • ‘And it was attended by President and Ladybird Johnson, so I figured, you know, such an important occasion, I better give them the works, right?’
    everything, the full treatment
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • all work and no play (makes Jack a dull boy)

    • proverb Continuous work without rest or relaxation is harmful to one's personal life and well-being.

      ‘in addition to firm information, we have a little game because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’
      • ‘Being in shape doesn't have to be all work and no play.’
      • ‘It won't be all work and no play at the show.’
      • ‘The summer won't be all work and no play, however, with almost half of students intending to go travelling at some point.’
      • ‘Though you agree that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the industrious and methodical part of you will do justice to your work.’
      • ‘All work and no play, poor nutrition, no exercise, and few relationships can have severe negative consequences in the long run.’
  • at work

    • In action.

      ‘researchers were convinced that one infectious agent was at work’
      • ‘I call Mark as both of us love to watch the industrious little blighters at work.’
      • ‘I was glad our children had a chance to see such rare, vanished technology at work.’
      • ‘Either there is some deep dark secret that needs to be protected, or another factor is at work here.’
      • ‘There will be a chance for the public to step inside an industrial museum and see history at work.’
      • ‘With the so-called electronic voices it should be clear that the same process is at work.’
      • ‘Nature is busy at work even in a place of towering bricks and mortar with concrete sprawl.’
  • give someone the works

    • 1informal Tell someone everything.

    • 2informal Treat someone harshly or violently.

      • ‘He got on the boat and opened it, and looked in the back of it, and the works were gone, and the note said, come back and we'll give you the works.’
      • ‘DiCaprio's Rimbaud gives him the works--abusing him to disabuse him, so to speak, to try to free him of his sentiment.’
  • have one's work cut out

    • Be faced with a hard or lengthy task.

      ‘Shaw had his work cut out keeping fires at bay in London’
      • ‘Richards will have her work cut out to convince clients the cuts were needed and stop a further damaging exodus.’
      • ‘In the absence of global Australian education brand names, our universities - and our other non-traditional providers - have their work cut out.’
      • ‘But bamboo growers and promoters have their work cut out for them if they want to create a solid industry in Mexico, in part because they are starting almost from scratch.’
      • ‘‘You have your work cut out for you,’ she said, and began to clear the table.’
      • ‘Study hard Anna, you have your work cut out for you!’
      • ‘Julia is a hard act to follow and I will have my work cut out.’
  • in the works

    • Being planned, worked on, or produced.

      ‘a major consolidation of companies was in the works’
      • ‘Plans are in the works to add a variety of new programming and specialty shows.’
      • ‘Plans are already in the works to begin developing several new trails in the area this summer.’
      • ‘The meeting had lasted over four hours and still no strategy or plan of rescue was in the works.’
      • ‘In addition to the new club in Idaho, plans are in the works for the first sumo club in Texas.’
      • ‘If such a plan is truly in the works, it will have dire consequences for the people of Darfur.’
      • ‘Plans are in the works to build an addition that will double Shaw's occupancy.’
      under way, going on, ongoing, happening, occurring, taking place, proceeding, being done, being performed, continuing, in operation
      View synonyms
  • make hard work of

    • Exert more time or energy on (a task) than is necessary.

      ‘the team made hard work of beating the Giants’
      • ‘They made hard work of reaching this stage of the competition.’
      • ‘His side made hard work of grinding down their industrious opponents.’
      • ‘The Frenchman made hard work of it until the third set.’
      • ‘He admitted afterwards that he made hard work of his victory.’
      • ‘She is making hard work of it in her government.’
  • out of work

    • Unemployed.

      ‘any reduction in spending will close shops and put people out of work’
      • ‘He is against boycotts since they put people out of work who are barely hanging on as it is.’
      • ‘He's been out of work while his wife was very ill and the family could use some help.’
      • ‘Is the Government forgetting about the over-fifties who are out of work and have no dependent children?’
      • ‘More than a million farmers in Mexico are out of work because of our subsidies on corn.’
      • ‘Here's this guy on the flee and charged with all these crimes, and you are out of work.’
      • ‘For a long time, he just lay there, thinking about how his best friend was out of work.’
  • set to work

    • Begin or cause to begin work.

      ‘the owners set to work itemizing what was wrong’
      • ‘So the necessary equipment was bought and M Gaget was set to work.’
      • ‘At the same time Pope Julius II commissioned Raphael, he also set Michelangelo to work for four long years painting the 10,000 square foot ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.’
      • ‘Now that they are on holiday, give them a torch and set them to work.’
      • ‘An Irish person could register a company in any other country, bring in workers from that country, set them to work and pay them wages according to the regulations in the other country.’
      • ‘Ferretti liked what he saw, signed them up and set them to work immediately on their next collection.’
      • ‘Andrea was one of four children, and as usual with Italians of artistic temperament, he was set to work under the eye of a goldsmith.’
  • a spanner in the works

    • A person or thing that prevents the successful implementation of a plan.

      ‘even the weakest parties can throw a spanner in the works of the negotiations’
      • ‘The plan goes smoothly, but femme fatale Sherry throws a spanner in the works by getting her henchmen to kill everybody.’
      • ‘The convention dictates that there must be a spanner in the works of an otherwise successful relationship, and Kissing Jessica Stein is no different.’
      • ‘So we could all do without any last-minute hitches that could throw a spanner in the works just when we think everything is about to be signed and sealed.’
      • ‘Someone is trying to throw a spanner in the works but we won't allow them to disrupt the rebuilding job we are doing here.’
      • ‘Some nimble move by AMD or even IBM could throw another monkey wrench in the works.’
      interfere, interfere with, hinder, hamper, obstruct, disrupt, impede, inhibit, retard, baulk, thwart, foil, curb, delay, set back, slow down, hold back, hold up
      View synonyms
  • the work of —

    • A task occupying a specified amount of time.

      ‘it was the work of a moment to discover the tiny stab wound’
      • ‘It was the work of but moments to drag the whistling warrior back across the clearing.’
      • ‘It is the work of a moment to tie on a bead so that the line pressure traps the bead against the level wind mechanism.’
      • ‘The murder of this family, five in number, was the work of a moment, not one of them awoke.’
      • ‘There are moments in history when the work of years can be accomplished in weeks.’
      • ‘It was the work of no more than an hour to cut a hop-through and I could get on with the rest of the job.’
  • work one's ass (or butt) off

    • vulgar slang Work extremely hard.

      toil, labour, exert oneself, slave, slave away, plod away
      View synonyms
  • work to rule

    • 1Follow official working rules and hours exactly in order to reduce output and efficiency, especially as a form of industrial action.

      • ‘There's talk of the police working to rule and having protest marches against overtime cuts and stuff.’
      • ‘The options include working to rule, an overtime ban and days on which fares will not be collected.’
      • ‘We may even consider working to rule and start taking lunchbreaks, which we never do in order to get the round finished.’
      • ‘The union has confirmed that all members are working to rule and that a strike will take place on February 6.’
      • ‘Workers in the planning department who are not on strike are working to rule.’
      • ‘More bad news this week as public school teachers across Bermuda began working to rule in protest at another last minute Ministry decision.’
      1. 1.1An instance or period of working to rule.
        ‘management urged cabin crew to call off their work-to-rule’
        • ‘Workers in the planning department who are not on strike are working to rule.’
        • ‘In a bid to keep up pressure on their employers, the workers were due to stage a work to rule this week.’
        • ‘By withdrawing their labour or even working to rule they may be able to deprive the public of a key service.’
        • ‘Must show solidarity, join the union, march for better conditions, withdraw participation in voluntary activities, work to rule.’
        • ‘The campaign has mainly revolved around working to rule.’
        • ‘One of the servers here is on a work to rule.’
        • ‘Last week representatives of the 360 pilots who have been working to rule decided to escalate the action.’
        • ‘Last Monday the refuse collectors announced a work to rule.’
        • ‘They have launched a strict work to rule to put the pressure on management.’
        • ‘Even the police have, on occasion, not been averse to a spot of work to rule.’
  • work one's way up

    • Progress towards something better or ascend a series of ranks through hard work.

      ‘she worked her way up to become a vice president’
      • ‘She worked her way up in the family company from tea-girl, to sales desk, to sales director, and then to managing director.’
      • ‘He worked his way up from being employed as a trainee to a manager's position.’
      • ‘I started by working in the summer, cleaning tools and sweeping floors, before working my way up to a supervisor's position.’
      • ‘There were some sharp people I worked with in restaurant and retail jobs, but they were in school, or worked their way up the management chain quickly.’
      • ‘We are having to start up the club from the bottom and work our way up.’
  • work one's passage

    • Pay for one's journey on a ship with work instead of money.

      • ‘Others tramped their way to towns and seaports where they worked their passage to some foreign port and were never heard of again.’
      • ‘I once managed to work my passage through both the Suez and Panama Canals on a container ship.’
  • work one's way through university (or college, etc.)

    • Obtain the money for educational fees or maintenance as a student by working.

      • ‘They are used to students working their way through college and graduates starting work with big loans to repay.’
      • ‘Most students in the US work their way through college.’
      • ‘He worked his way through college in New Hampshire, copying and filing in the alumni office until he figured out better ways to get paid.’
      • ‘A larger group consists of overseas students working their way through college.’
      • ‘Many excelled in school, married, worked their way through college, raised children, joined the army, and became farmers, bankers, and politicians.’
  • work one's will on/upon

    • Accomplish one's purpose on.

      ‘she set a coiffeur to work his will on her hair’
      • ‘In the comments he compares the pleasure he gets from working his will on a recalcitrant domestic appliance to the triumph a caveman felt when slaying a mastodon.’
      • ‘Here people have worked their will upon rivers with remarkable engineering skills, but their work of concrete, valves, and buried pipes has neglected deeper social and aesthetic needs.’
      • ‘There is more than a little feeling of two elemental goddesses competing to work their will on nature.’
      • ‘At least I can still work my will on the minds of others.’
      • ‘When we make a clearing, we should do so not in order to enjoy the pleasure of weedwhacking, or otherwise working our will on the landscape, but in order to plant something.’
  • work the streets

    • (of a prostitute) seek clients in the street, rather than work in a brothel.

      ‘she works the streets in the city's red light district’
      • ‘The committee said as many as 300 child prostitutes work the streets of Regina.’
      • ‘The teenager abandoned plans to go to university and now works the streets in Sheffield's red-light area to pay for her addiction.’
      • ‘There are now about 400 prostitutes working the streets.’
      • ‘I don't believe there are any women working the streets who want to be there.’
      • ‘She spent half of her life working the streets of the major cities of Saskatchewan.’
      • ‘I've been working the streets for around ten months now.’
      • ‘Lynda has now come off the drugs and the drink - and she has turned her back on working the streets.’
      • ‘The alternative to working the streets would be employment in one of Edinburgh's thriving saunas.’
      • ‘Women who work the streets represent only 10-15% of all prostitutes in the US.’
      • ‘Access to health and drug workers would be provided, and under-18s would be banned from working the streets.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • work back

    • Work overtime.

      ‘our admin woman works back every night’
      • ‘They don't say that they're going off somewhere and their underlings often cover for them and work back late.’
      • ‘I was working back a bit one night when the phone rang.’
      • ‘"I have to work back late most days, but it allows me to do something I really enjoy," she says.’
      • ‘It's 6pm, and you're working back late.’
      • ‘Even though the day was draining, I worked back late to avoid extra stress next week.’
      • ‘They have increased the entitlement for reimbursement of additional childcare costs when parents are required to work back or are called away with little warning.’
      • ‘Some argue for a cap on working hours, which would make it illegal for bosses to allow their employees to work back late.’
      • ‘Workers this week voted overwhelmingly to reject the agreement that would have forced them to start work as early as 7am and work back to 9pm.’
      • ‘I thought about working back another week but my doctor won't let me, as she knows I need to switch off.’
      • ‘Some men "work back" so as to avoid the witching hours between 5pm and 8pm.’
  • work something in

    • Try to include something, typically in a text or speech.

      • ‘Not sure if I will be able to work it in - I am having real trouble keeping in my head what exactly I am supposed to be writing about.’
      • ‘I hadn't actually considered bringing back Sam's evil bodyguard history beyond the brief mention that he now hates bodyguarding, but I may find a way to work it in.’
      • ‘And, how would I have worked it in to the conversation without a really weird point, ‘hi, I am Adelaide, I am your brother's boss's daughter’?’
  • work something off

    • 1Discharge a debt by working.

      ‘indentured servants working off their parents' debts’
      • ‘The barrister continued: ‘It was the dealer's suggestion he work the debt off by helping in the care of the cannabis plants.’’
      • ‘The events ahead are impossible to predict precisely, but historic debt levels are not worked off in a few years, especially when the debt is accelerating.’
      • ‘In return you will serve the hotel loyally and honestly until your debts are worked off by your hard labour.’
    • 2Reduce or eliminate something by work or other activity.

      ‘one of those gimmicks for working off aggression’
      • ‘Turn idle time into exercise time, and it really works, works the weight off.’
      • ‘Kevin paced the area of the cave grunting, trying to work off his anger.’
      • ‘The cartoonish characters and the self-indulgent venting made you think the author was using his art to work off private resentments both old and new.’
      • ‘I wished that I'd brought my gym things to get some time in at the gym during my lunch break, work off some of my frustration and unknown feelings.’
      • ‘Corman set neophytes to work off their baby fat on projects like Battle Beyond the Sun (Coppola) and Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (Bogdanovich).’
  • work out

    • 1(of an equation) be capable of being solved.

      • ‘The way things worked was easy… I can show you how an algebra equation works out on paper.’
      • ‘If you offer no resistance to your own magick, Carroll's equations work out in your favor.’
      1. 1.1Be calculated at.
        ‘the losses work out at $2.94 a share’
        • ‘By my calculations, this worked out at £10 per foreign word on the menu.’
        • ‘The extra urban fuel consumption rate works out at 36.7mpg.’
        • ‘The 600 drivers, who earn about £6 per hour, had voted to reject a pay offer that works out at about a 4.5 per cent increase.’
        • ‘Since 1999 the index has fallen by more than 2,800 points, and the loss to EFM on this basis would work out at £17m.’
        • ‘That's an individual rate of 200 fines annually per warden, which works out at just one successful fine per warden every 1.8 days.’
        amount to, add up to, come to, total
        View synonyms
    • 2Have a good or specified result.

      ‘things don't always work out that way’
      • ‘Everywhere I have been, people think I always have the answers because everything always works out.’
      • ‘As it worked out, these results seemed to reflect the mood of America.’
      • ‘But we've been in bad situations before, and everything has always worked out.’
      • ‘I'm still praying for you, and I hope everything works out for the greater good!’
      • ‘An example of false optimism: ‘Everything always works out in the end.’’
      succeed, be successful, work, turn out well, go as planned, get results, be effective
      end up, turn out, go, come out, develop, evolve, result
      View synonyms
    • 3Engage in vigorous physical exercise.

      ‘they regularly walked, danced, ran and worked out at the gym’
      • ‘He was doing Pilates and working out with oversized exercise balls long before either became trendy.’
      • ‘Park, 34, is in excellent shape and works out regularly at a gym near his home.’
      • ‘She worked out in the exercise room and there was a dart board right in front of the treadmill.’
      • ‘Stewart has been spending a lot of the off season in town, working out with teammates and studying with Gilbride.’
      • ‘I don't care how many hours a day an athlete works out or how many women have commented on his ‘glistening, rippling muscles,’ the rest of us do not need to see him naked.’
      exercise, do exercises, train
      View synonyms
  • work someone out

    • Understand someone's character.

      • ‘He's so good in fact it seems virtually no one has worked him out.’
      • ‘They just can't work him out, so they mump and moan and gripe and groan about how he doesn't lead from the front.’
      • ‘Eve's relationship with this man, her superior, is brambly and intriguing; she is unable to work him out.’
      • ‘There is an obvious temptation to stay with a winning line-out but, very clearly, in this age of detailed video analysis, the other countries have worked Scotland out.’
      • ‘His hands are tender rather than frantic, he's concentrating, working me out, paying attention to detail, reciprocating in kind rather than just grabbing what's on offer.’
  • work something out

    • 1Solve a sum or determine an amount by calculation.

      ‘she worked out sums on her way to school’
      • ‘All these figures are worked out at the time you first apply for a basic state pension and they will stay that way for five years.’
      • ‘It makes sense to get the taxman to work the figure out.’
      • ‘Precise mathematical calculations are worked out and this determines how a person's life is affected.’
      • ‘I just did a quiz at the Guardian designed to figure out how much money you should be earning - it works it out by assessing your IQ.’
      • ‘But when you work it out, it amounts to 6 percent.’
      calculate, compute, reckon up, determine
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Find the answer to something.
        ‘I couldn't work out whether it was a band playing or a record’
        • ‘For those of you who I sent the ‘Freaky site’ email to and who haven't worked it out, here is the answer.’
        • ‘It baffled him for ages, until he finally worked it out.’
        • ‘They will demonstrate how the culinary magic of Mangalore could be worked out with three ingredients that create the characteristic taste of Mangalore - fish, rice and coconut.’
        • ‘The joke is that the slogan looks Dutch, until you work it out.’
        • ‘Panych doesn't give us a pat answer, so it's up to the company to work it out.’
        understand, comprehend, puzzle out, sort out, reason out, make sense of, think out, think through, get to the bottom of, make head or tail of, solve, find an answer to, find an solution to, unravel, untangle, decipher, decode, find the key to, piece together
        View synonyms
    • 2Plan something in detail.

      ‘work out a seating plan’
      • ‘I'd say most of the responses lean toward staying together and working it out, as will mine.’
      • ‘He orchestrated a group of 21 senators, led by Abraham, to urge Meissner to delay further implementation of the student-tracking system until the fee system could be worked out.’
      • ‘But Caron stood his ground until licensing deals were worked out for all the music and at last Seasons 1 & 2 of Moonlighting are available on DVD.’
      • ‘I have a very scientific approach to cooking, and I have a lot of ideas about what flavours would work together, but they often remain hypothetical, and I usually spend half an hour working my dishes out on paper before preparing them.’
      • ‘Yes, I have started writing for my second album, and I am so excited about working the arrangements out with my producer and my band.’
      devise, formulate, draw up, put together, develop, prepare, construct, arrange, organize, plan, think up, contrive, concoct
      View synonyms
    • 3Accomplish something with difficulty.

      ‘malicious fates are bent on working out an ill intent’
      succeed, be successful, work out, turn out well, go as planned, have the desired result, get results
      succeed, be successful, work, work out, turn out well, go as planned, have the desired result, get results, be efficacious
      View synonyms
    • 4Work a mine until it is exhausted of minerals.

      • ‘Cornish production supplied most of the needs of Britain and Europe until the mid-19th cent. when many mines were worked out.’
      • ‘This became Europe's most important source of gold until the deposits were worked out by the 1760s.’
  • work someone over

    • Beat someone severely.

      ‘the coppers had worked him over a little just for the fun of it’
      • ‘Any time life works us over to the degree that we experience combined physical and mental pain (usually stemming from some kind of loss), we are in the realm of alchemy.’
      • ‘They can work you over in an alley while singing an opera.’
      • ‘Back in the ring Adam is working Dave over something terrible.’
      • ‘It looked like someone had worked him over to get him to say what they wanted him to say.’
      • ‘She looks like she might attack again along with my buddy who just worked me over.’
      beat up, beat, attack, assault, knock about, knock around, maltreat, mistreat, abuse, batter, manhandle
      View synonyms
  • work to

    • Follow or operate within the constraints of (a schedule or system)

      ‘working to tight deadlines’
      • ‘She went back to the art a few years ago, however, and now works to commission.’
      • ‘Not that he's looking for excuses, just proof that his specialism works to very fine margins.’
      • ‘It works to the highest musical standards and has won acclaim for its performances across a whole range of venues.’
  • work up to

    • Proceed gradually towards (something more advanced or intense)

      ‘the course starts with landing technique, working up to jumps from an enclosed platform’
      • ‘Do as many wall push-ups as you can, gradually working up to 10 repetitions.’
      • ‘For example, start out at 70 percent of your maximum heart rate or lower and gradually work up to a higher intensity level.’
      • ‘Medical experts who have experience with MSM suggest starting with 1,000 mg a day, in either capsule or crystal form, and gradually working up to 4,000 mg daily.’
      • ‘Do crunches 3 days a week, beginning with 2 sets of 10 reps each and gradually working up to 3 sets of 15 reps.’
      • ‘Gradually work up to 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground flaxseeds daily to avoid bloating and gas.’
      • ‘This week I carefully built up the drawings from a light watered down line gradually working up to the darker.’
  • work someone up

    • Gradually bring someone, especially oneself, to a state of intense excitement, anger, or anxiety.

      ‘he got all worked up and started shouting and swearing’
      • ‘There had definitely been a spark - the whole hatred thing really worked her up, and some of the passion accidentally slipped out when their lips met.’
      • ‘You psyche yourself up for the operation, go without food the night before and don't get much sleep because you are worked up.’
      • ‘And most of us shudder at the idea of ridding the monarchy of the pomp and pageantry that routinely works us up into a collective frenzy.’
      • ‘He swallowed back the fear with the thought that, as far as he could remember, no near-suicide mission had ever worked him up like this.’
      • ‘Music makes us swoon, yearn, weep, laugh, gets us all lovey-dovey or can work us up into an aggressive, martial frenzy.’
  • work something up

    • 1Bring something gradually to a more complete or satisfactory state.

      ‘painters were accustomed to working up compositions from drawings’
      • ‘The first is where you have some wax and you work it up and bring some things in.’
      • ‘He works his paintings up from informative sketches.’
    • 2Develop or produce by activity or effort.

      ‘despite the cold, George had already worked up a fair sweat’
      • ‘Exercise is one way to work up a sweat and promote detoxification from the body.’
      • ‘Here's my favorite boy toy working up some elbow grease, de-furring the couch with a cat-hair-catching sponge.’
      • ‘But that means travellers would barely work up a sweat before their train arrived.’
      stimulate, rouse, raise, arouse, awaken, excite, build up, whet
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English weorc (noun), wyrcan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch werk and German Werk, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek ergon.

Pronunciation

work

/wəːk/