Definition of work in US English:

work

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’
    • ‘Be it as a player or a coach or otherwise success only comes as a result of hard work and effort.’
    • ‘The team is now finally seeing the results of their hard work done during the test sessions and in the first few races.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The students must come first: they are the ones who actively do the work and achieve the results.’
    • ‘The show was a mixture of theatrics, gymnastics, acting and physical hard work.’
    • ‘The pain may result in inability to do routine work or household activities.’
    • ‘That means half a kilo per day will keep a man doing heavy physical work.’
    • ‘He has put a lot of effort into his pre-season work and not only with his bikes.’
    • ‘Even then there was congestion on the bridge as a result of resurfacing work.’
    • ‘Brilliant breakthroughs can emerge as a result of hard work and disciplined effort.’
    • ‘This is the result of much hard work throughout the council to drive up standards.’
    • ‘He knows that time, hard work, dedication and effort are the only way a team can be built.’
    • ‘Too many of us are still attached to the outdated belief that success comes from a result of hard work.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By your hard work and your effort, you are actively advancing the growth of our nation.’
    • ‘We owe it to our customers and to our funders to show them the results of our work.’
    • ‘This is the result of a lot of research, a lot of work, a lot of effort over a very long time.’
    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’
      • ‘He does not say anything about his prospect of finding work or the efforts he is making.’
      • ‘Clarks said it would provide support to employees seeking alternative work.’
      • ‘After I met with him, it was clear that his personality didn't entirely mesh with his line of work.’
      • ‘Isn't she afraid of the competition that is suddenly surfacing in her line of work?’
      • ‘Sometimes he thinks about this but he can always justify his line of work.’
      • ‘In my situation, one of the reasons why I have remained here, is because of my line of work.’
      • ‘It is known to be the case that it is more difficult to find alternative employment whilst out of work than whilst in work.’
      • ‘This trip is to provide relief and training to a new recruit into my line of work.’
      • ‘We have secured revenue streams through consultancy work and product income.’
      • ‘John was a well known and accomplished tailor and was gifted in that line of work.’
      • ‘He said it was essential that a programme was put in place to help Parker Knoll employees find new work or retrain.’
      • ‘It's for six months which is really good for an actress to get so much work and a steady income.’
      • ‘With remarkable royal originality, the Prince first inquired as to Ron's line of work.’
      • ‘Anything that has to do with my line of work, I'm the one everyone in my company calls.’
      • ‘Tade could turn his hand to any type of work and earned his living from his own expertise.’
      • ‘The firm set up a mini job centre on site to help employees find new work.’
      • ‘This will affect them in later life and may hamper their efforts to find work, she said.’
      • ‘Many feel on edge and one woman claimed to have given up work as a result of the stress.’
      • ‘With their matching broken noses, the three left the pub in pursuit of a less hazardous line of work.’
      • ‘The younger Byer tried a different line of work early in his career, but it was not meant to be.’
      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’
      • ‘Mrs Jenkins knew nothing about the scam until her bank called one evening when she returned from work.’
      • ‘I dropped the car off and walked to the nearby station to catch the train into work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I caught one of my consultant colleagues sneaking into work with one under his arm.’
      • ‘The unprovoked attack happened as he returned from work earlier this month.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yesterday a very large cardboard box was waiting for me when I returned from work.’
      • ‘Naburn residents left for work today with little hope that they would be able to return this evening.’
      • ‘Three hours later, smoke was seen coming from her door by a person returning from work.’
      • ‘By the time her flatmates return from work, the victim has become the oppressor.’
      • ‘Then we'd have to have transportation to and from work, so that meant we'd have to buy a car.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One of the main problems is that owners are too affectionate with their dogs when they return from work.’
      • ‘On the day of his death, he returned from work as usual, exercised the dog, and went to sleep in the front bedroom.’
      • ‘However we had to get going as I'd promised to pop into work briefly to check out my new laptop.’
      • ‘Alteration in lifestyle involves a reduction in physical activity in work and the home.’
      • ‘Her husband returned from work later in the day and wondered what on earth was going on.’
    3. 1.3 The period of time one spends in paid employment.
      ‘he was going to the theater after work’
      • ‘Bloody Leo meets Paddy at the bar after work and is once again looking down in the dumps.’
      • ‘He was referring to a woman who worked as a clerk at a police chowky and had not reported for work for days.’
      • ‘Flexible working is a range of options designed to help employees balance work and home life.’
      • ‘Drivers can turn up for work and report that they have taken medication, and are unsure if they are fit to drive.’
      • ‘Looked at the timetable for work over the next fortnight, I'm down some hours but it's not too bad.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most employees arriving for work early today had only heard about the merger on the early morning news.’
      • ‘Union members who have broken the strike to return to work would be able to vote, to the fury of some of their colleagues.’
      • ‘On the third day, he decided to report for work at the KFC, acting as if nothing had happened.’
      • ‘Flags flew at half-mast and non-essential staff were told not to report for work.’
  • 2A task or tasks to be undertaken; something a person or thing has to do.

    ‘they made sure the work was progressing smoothly’
    • ‘Our trip was very successful as we undertook a lot of work for the orphanage in the week we were there.’
    • ‘Remedial work has now been undertaken and a small population continues to survive there.’
    • ‘It is they who decide what work is undertaken and who gets employed and paid and so on.’
    • ‘The successful bid would include a specification of the work and materials and prices.’
    • ‘A programme of repair and maintenance work was undertaken on parts of Hadrian's Wall.’
    • ‘It will be strictly not for profit and much of the renovation work will be undertaken by volunteers.’
    • ‘The work undertaken in support of the Decade for Human Rights Education is one example of this.’
    • ‘He will not therefore be undertaking any work within the cathedral until this matter is concluded.’
    • ‘An area action plan will be produced which details when and how that work will be undertaken.’
    • ‘Twelve men have been flown in to make sure refitting work is finished on time.’
    • ‘There were no signs of any work having recently been undertaken or completed.’
    • ‘He has done a small number of private commissions but has undertaken no major painting work.’
    • ‘Undertaking this work may disturb the sediment and release the contaminants in the water.’
    • ‘The plan was in the process of being implemented and an enormous amount of work had been undertaken.’
    • ‘Some of his early years were spent over in England where he undertook a variety of work.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I recognise that you may not have undertaken any work for the police early in 2001.’
    • ‘Their work uses industrial materials such as steel plates, cables, magnets and oil.’
    • ‘He undertook this work for seven years and showed reals talents in his job.’
    • ‘Also, is it reasonable to stipulate that no work be undertaken over the weekend?’
    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.’
      • ‘Instead of taking work with you, spend some time ensuring urgent matters are dealt with before you take your break.’
      • ‘Type A people are highly competitive. They typically work long hours and regularly take work home.’
    2. 2.2informal Cosmetic plastic surgery.
      ‘between you and me, I think he's had some work done’
      • ‘The ironic thing is that when younger women get all that work done, they end up looking older.’
      • ‘Why would she have had work? She still looks gorgeous.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She's obviously had work done to her nose.’
      • ‘I think he might be my fave celeb even if he has had a bit of 'work'.’
      • ‘The plastic surgeon says he has done work on celebrities, but he won't name names because of patient confidentiality.’
      • ‘Knifeless work on men, including botox injections, has increased 722 percent since 1997.’
      • ‘If her face has had a lot of work, then it's probably more likely that all sorts of other things have, too.’
      • ‘She seems to have had so much work done, subtle and not so subtle, that she looks like a marmorealized version of herself.’
    3. 2.3worksTheology Good or moral deeds.
      ‘the Clapham sect was concerned with works rather than with faith’
      • ‘You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.’
      • ‘How can I do good works if I am physically not able to work?’
      • ‘Indeed, evangelical Christians should be foremost in good deeds and leaders in works of charity.’
      • ‘Abraham was justified by works when he offered Isaac.’
      • ‘For no matter how good our deeds or works may be, they cannot satisfy God 100%.’
  • 3Something done or made.

    ‘her work hangs in all the main American collections’
    • ‘Fred is a retired vet who still does locum veterinary work and also plays 18 holes of golf twice a week.’
    • ‘Young filmmakers hoping to make it in the movies are showcasing their work next week.’
    • ‘Of course he endured it all, but he didn't want it to disturb his creative work.’
    • ‘We did a lot of set-piece work, but later on we did come across Panzer and Tiger tanks.’
    • ‘So with the movie work, the baby and the wife, does Phillippe have a hard time taking stock of it all?’
    • ‘Perhaps that explains why there have been few truly satisfying screen adaptations of his work.’
    • ‘For creative work, cats are excellent to contemplate when they are in repose.’
    • ‘Looking back, it is clear that it is this interest in real people which saves Boorman's movie work.’
    • ‘Principals may take the limelight in a musical but chorus work is the lifeblood of it.’
    • ‘It seems in some ways more of a challenge for him than getting his work hung in the National Galleries.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The audience to one of his films shown at the Berlin Film Festival jeered his work as it was being screened.’
    • ‘Still, she is hanging my work and will be sainted for it, in a weak moment I might have given her one.’
    • ‘I have finally got round to putting some of my work down on screen for everyone to read.’
    • ‘It's kind of a financial and moral thing about owning your own creative work.’
    • ‘The only living artist to have his work hung in the Natyet resonates with images of his Dublin Bay home.’
    • ‘Much of Morrison's work is autobiographical but he says this is his most personal project yet.’
    • ‘Thanks so much for your work, both on screen and in books, graphic and otherwise.’
    • ‘Since then her career has developed in opera, concert work, recording and broadcasting.’
    handiwork, doing, act, deed, feat, performance
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 The result of the action of a specified person or thing.
      ‘the bombing had been the work of a German-based cell’
    2. 3.2 A literary or musical composition or other piece of fine art.
      ‘a work of fiction’
      • ‘The hands of the artist or artisan are supposed to produce unique, original works.’
      • ‘While the art embraces stories and traditions going back centuries, most of the works were produced in the last decade.’
      • ‘Has it led people to deal with it more as a literary work and less as a media event?’
      • ‘Imported textiles are often used as a base, and artistic batik works are produced for the tourist market.’
      • ‘Two of the works produced by the artist in residence will be given to the Central Akademi.’
      • ‘Her Magnum Opus Project is commissioning nine new orchestral works and six new compositions.’
      • ‘It's a work of exactitude in literature not rivalled outside Tristram Shandy.’
      • ‘Now he is penning plays, musicals and literary works, and his new audience requires a different kind of chap altogether.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When The Beatles broke up, the individual members produced works like Imagine, All Things Must Pass and Mind Games.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both move me almost to tears in places and are mature works from artists at the peak of their creative powers.’
      • ‘On the other hand, materials for producing these works might need to be transported from home.’
      • ‘On display now at schools throughout Pattaya are works produced by children based on the theme of children's rights.’
      • ‘Hiding behind humour, he was intensely aware of his inability to produce works of political significance.’
      • ‘It makes no sense to assume that a university should be assessing the market value of works produced by their fine arts students.’
      • ‘The wee man was a big artist, producing some huge works including a triptych around two metres high.’
      composition, piece, creation, achievement, accomplishment
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3works All literary or musical pieces by 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.’
      • ‘The South Bank plays host to a month-long retrospective of the English composer's 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.’
      • ‘Leonardo was extremely fastidious, but Nicholl reminds us that his exquisite works were the product of titanic labours.’
      • ‘They did not know foreign languages and did not seem to appreciate scholars' works.’
      • ‘Little, however, has been known about the shy schoolmaster who produced these works, some of which he wrote with his brother.’
      • ‘As the name signifies, it will focus on either one of the more melodious Carnatic raagas or the works of a famous composer.’
      • ‘The Golden Age produced the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Dutch masters.’
      • ‘After the death of Liszt in 1888, there was contention among the critical hierarchy over the musical value of his works.’
      • ‘Fascinating tales of Romeo and Juliet were among Mr David's favorite pieces of Shakespeare's works.’
      • ‘The most telling piece of Block's works sits shyly under a window.’
      • ‘Few regular readers of Parameters will be unfamiliar with the works of Ralph Peters.’
      • ‘The only artist whose works directly convey a form of social commentary is Sopko.’
      • ‘Based on the works of author H.P. Lovecraft, the title depicts a world steeped in evil and chaos.’
      • ‘The other principle the artist followed was the artistic value of the works.’
      • ‘You have a right to love her literary works; and I have a right not to.’
      • ‘Collectors who have snapped up his works include multi-millionaire composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.’
      • ‘Handel's comparisons of the works of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu are nothing short of brilliant.’
      • ‘The works of Mawdudi were translated into Arabic and other languages as early as 1940.’
      • ‘Folklore and religious places are key elements in artist Sunil's works.’
      writings, oeuvre, canon, output
      View synonyms
    4. 3.4 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 chikan work of Lucknow is perhaps one of the most popular embroidery works in India.’
      • ‘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.’
    5. 3.5works An architectural or engineering structure such as a bridge or dam.
    6. 3.6 The record of the successive calculations made in solving a mathematical problem.
      ‘show your work on a separate sheet of paper’
      • ‘She can do the work and solve the problems, but she can't do it under exam conditions.’
  • 4worksBritish treated as singular A place or premises for industrial activity, typically manufacturing.

    ‘he found a job in the ironworks’
    • ‘The company's 10 workers escaped without injury, but part of the works roof and machinery is badly damaged.’
    • ‘The Victorian homes are built on the site of a former brick and tile works.’
    • ‘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 works will produce top-quality colour magazines, catalogues and newspaper supplements.’
    • ‘Thihicarm armories have their works here, the best in a dozen kingdoms.’
    • ‘I look around me at work and I see where my colleagues go: the coffee room, the vending machine, the works canteen.’
    • ‘The first of these is the Civil Engineering Works associated with the construction of the treatment works.’
    • ‘He said the company's chief executive Andrew Mazimba was in Zimbabwe to bring part of the machinery for the mining works.’
    • ‘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 first commercial oil shale works were constructed at Port Kembla in 1865.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘Once the works are removed, the gears will be visible as shown below.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The fumes of the kerosene loosen the dirt, which falls into the cotton wool, leaving the works of the clock clean.’
    • ‘It is not necessary to remove the L bracket from the works of the clock.’
    mechanism, machinery, workings, working parts, parts, movement, action
    View synonyms
  • 6usually worksMilitary
    A defensive structure.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many of these later military works can be seen, including secret wartime tunnel systems.’
  • 7Physics
    The exertion of force overcoming resistance or producing molecular change.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The walker's muscles must do this amount of work, to replace the lost kinetic energy, in every step.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘We have the works: pedicure, nails painted, eyelashes tinted, highlights.’
    • ‘Did he give you the works? The flowers, the kisses, knew all the right things to say?’
    everything, the full treatment
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • at work

    • 1Engaged in work.

      1. 1.1In action.
        ‘researchers were convinced that one infectious agent was at work’
        • ‘There will be a chance for the public to step inside an industrial museum and see history at work.’
        • ‘Either there is some deep dark secret that needs to be protected, or another factor is at work here.’
        • ‘I call Mark as both of us love to watch the industrious little blighters at work.’
        • ‘Nature is busy at work even in a place of towering bricks and mortar with concrete sprawl.’
        • ‘With the so-called electronic voices it should be clear that the same process is at work.’
        • ‘I was glad our children had a chance to see such rare, vanished technology at work.’
  • give someone the works

    • 1informal Treat someone harshly.

      • ‘DiCaprio's Rimbaud gives him the works--abusing him to disabuse him, so to speak, to try to free him of his sentiment.’
      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1Kill someone.
  • have one's work cut out

    • Be faced with a hard or lengthy task.

      • ‘Richards will have her work cut out to convince clients the cuts were needed and stop a further damaging exodus.’
      • ‘‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Julia is a hard act to follow and I will have my work cut out.’
  • in the works

    • Being planned, worked on, or produced.

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

    • Unemployed.

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

    • Begin or cause to begin work.

      • ‘Ferretti liked what he saw, signed them up and set them to work immediately on their next collection.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So the necessary equipment was bought and M Gaget was set to work.’
  • a wrench (or monkey wrench) in the works

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

      ‘he has thrown a wrench in the works by saying he would prefer direct elections to happen’
      ‘a cancellation can throw a real monkey wrench into the schedule’
      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 is the work of a moment to tie on a bead so that the line pressure traps the bead against the level wind mechanism.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was the work of but moments to drag the whistling warrior back across the clearing.’
      • ‘There are moments in history when the work of years can be accomplished in weeks.’
      • ‘The murder of this family, five in number, was the work of a moment, not one of them awoke.’
  • work one's ass (or butt) off

    • vulgar slang Work extremely hard.

      toil, labour, exert oneself, slave, slave away, plod away
      View synonyms
  • 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 will on/upon

    • Accomplish one's purpose on.

      ‘she set a coiffeur to work his will on her hair’
      • ‘At least I can still work my will on the minds of others.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There is more than a little feeling of two elemental goddesses competing to work their will on nature.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘I don't believe there are any women working the streets who want to be there.’
      • ‘The teenager abandoned plans to go to university and now works the streets in Sheffield's red-light area to pay for her addiction.’
      • ‘Lynda has now come off the drugs and the drink - and she has turned her back on working the streets.’
      • ‘I've been working the streets for around ten months now.’
      • ‘She spent half of her life working the streets of the major cities of Saskatchewan.’
      • ‘The alternative to working the streets would be employment in one of Edinburgh's thriving saunas.’
      • ‘Access to health and drug workers would be provided, and under-18s would be banned from working the streets.’
      • ‘Women who work the streets represent only 10-15% of all prostitutes in the US.’
      • ‘There are now about 400 prostitutes working the streets.’
  • work one's way through college (or school, etc.)

    • Obtain the money for educational fees or one's 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.’
      • ‘Many excelled in school, married, worked their way through college, raised children, joined the army, and became farmers, bankers, and politicians.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most students in the US work their way through college.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • work something in

    • Include or incorporate something, typically in something spoken or written.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The barrister continued: ‘It was the dealer's suggestion he work the debt off by helping in the care of the cannabis plants.’’
      • ‘In return you will serve the hotel loyally and honestly until your debts are worked off by your hard labour.’
    • 2Reduce or get rid of something by work or activity.

      ‘one of those gimmicks for working off aggression’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Kevin paced the area of the cave grunting, trying to work off his anger.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Turn idle time into exercise time, and it really works, works the weight off.’
      • ‘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.

      • ‘If you offer no resistance to your own magick, Carroll's equations work out in your favor.’
      • ‘The way things worked was easy… I can show you how an algebra equation works out on paper.’
      1. 1.1Be calculated at.
        ‘the losses work out at $2.94 a share’
        • ‘The extra urban fuel consumption rate works out at 36.7mpg.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘By my calculations, this worked out at £10 per foreign word on the menu.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        amount to, add up to, come to, total
        View synonyms
    • 2Have a good or specified result.

      ‘things don't always work out that way’
      • ‘An example of false optimism: ‘Everything always works out in the end.’’
      • ‘I'm still praying for you, and I hope everything works out for the greater good!’
      • ‘But we've been in bad situations before, and everything has always worked out.’
      • ‘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.’
      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 or training, typically at a gym.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Park, 34, is in excellent shape and works out regularly at a gym near his home.’
      • ‘Stewart has been spending a lot of the off season in town, working out with teammates and studying with Gilbride.’
      • ‘She worked out in the exercise room and there was a dart board right in front of the treadmill.’
      • ‘He was doing Pilates and working out with oversized exercise balls long before either became trendy.’
      exercise, do exercises, train
      View synonyms
  • work someone out

    • Understand someone's character.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He's so good in fact it seems virtually no one has worked 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.’
      • ‘Eve's relationship with this man, her superior, is brambly and intriguing; she is unable to work him out.’
  • work something out

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

      • ‘Precise mathematical calculations are worked out and this determines how a person's life is affected.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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. 1.1Solve or find the answer to something.
        ‘I couldn't work out whether it was a band playing or a record’
        • ‘Panych doesn't give us a pat answer, so it's up to the company to work 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.’
        • ‘It baffled him for ages, until he finally worked it out.’
        • ‘The joke is that the slogan looks Dutch, until you work it out.’
        • ‘For those of you who I sent the ‘Freaky site’ email to and who haven't worked it out, here is the answer.’
        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 or devise 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      devise, formulate, draw up, put together, develop, prepare, construct, arrange, organize, plan, think up, contrive, concoct
      View synonyms
    • 3Accomplish or attain 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

    • Treat someone with violence; beat someone severely.

      ‘the cops 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.’
      • ‘It looked like someone had worked him over to get him to say what they wanted him to say.’
      • ‘Back in the ring Adam is working Dave over something terrible.’
      • ‘She looks like she might attack again along with my buddy who just worked me over.’
      • ‘They can work you over in an alley while singing an opera.’
      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 plan or system)

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

    • Proceed gradually toward (something more advanced or intense)

      ‘the course starts with landing technique, working up to jumps from an enclosed platform’
      • ‘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 as many wall push-ups as you can, gradually working up to 10 repetitions.’
      • ‘This week I carefully built up the drawings from a light watered down line gradually working up to the darker.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For example, start out at 70 percent of your maximum heart rate or lower and gradually work up to a higher intensity level.’
  • 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’
      • ‘You psyche yourself up for the operation, go without food the night before and don't get much sleep because you are worked up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Music makes us swoon, yearn, weep, laugh, gets us all lovey-dovey or can work us up into an aggressive, martial 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.’
  • 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.’
      • ‘But that means travellers would barely work up a sweat before their train arrived.’
      • ‘Here's my favorite boy toy working up some elbow grease, de-furring the couch with a cat-hair-catching sponge.’
      stimulate, rouse, raise, arouse, awaken, excite, build up, whet
      View synonyms
  • work through

    • Go through a process of understanding and accepting (a painful or difficult situation)

      ‘they should be allowed to feel the pain and work through their emotions’
      • ‘He is an excellent mediator with a lot of skills to try and work through these difficult times.’
      • ‘Van tries to wait in the shadows of Kristinâs life while she works through the grieving process.’
      • ‘Spike is a productive character who works through the difficulties of masculinity and reconciles them within larger social formations.’
      • ‘When someone experiences a major loss and works through the consequent process of grief he or she will be a different person subsequently.’
      • ‘His mind began to turn as to how he was going to work through the situation as it was presented.’

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

/wərk//wərk/