Definition of make-work in US English:



North American
  • Denoting an activity that serves mainly to keep someone busy and is of little value in itself.

    ‘a make-work scheme for lawyers’
    • ‘Real training for real tourism jobs, rather than make-work programs for the unemployed or unemployable.’
    • ‘Congress got busy spending money on New Deal legislation, creating make-work programs to try to end the Depression.’
    • ‘He may be a wash-out as an MLA, but all by himself, he's served as a one-man make-work project for northern lawyers.’
    • ‘We also know that the public service has expanded dramatically, and I suggest that there are a lot of make-work jobs there.’
    • ‘As we can all see now, their actual purpose, apparently, is to create three juicy make-work projects for Nunavut's ailing construction industry.’
    • ‘Ironically, it is Debra Winger herself who points out the true purpose of the film - it's a make-work project for Arquette.’
    • ‘Occasionally he puts in time on a government-funded make-work scheme.’
    • ‘For a thousand bucks an hour, I'd do make-work all day long - aye, and all night too!’
    • ‘The amount of responsibility that Bennett gives to undergraduates who work for him is unusual - no make-work tasks.’
    • ‘Orewa at one level has become a make-work scheme for the news media.’
    • ‘Yes, I can't see that there's any call for this sort of make-work activity!’
    • ‘Since then, she has gotten by with make-work schemes and retraining programs.’
    • ‘It's a great make-work system, but it serves patients and their families very poorly.’
    • ‘They are a non-productive, consuming society, employed in make-work services, which have no intrinsic value.’
    • ‘The people who were put on make-work schemes were less likely than others to find jobs.’
    • ‘No matter how desperately governments try to create jobs by fancy make-work schemes, unemployment becomes chronic.’
    • ‘Public investment needn't be a make-work proposition.’
    • ‘I don't really care much about Dr. Corday's lovelife, and the boxes in the admissions area seemed like a make-work project for the writers as well as the characters.’
    • ‘I would like to shake the hand of the genius of this make-work brainchild.’
    • ‘The level on which Jason X does succeed, however, is as an ongoing make-work program for talentless young actors.’


North American
  • Work or activity of little value that serves to keep someone busy.

    • ‘The figures for the latter, however, did not take into account those who were involved in make-work and re-education programs.’
    • ‘They are also masters of make-work, bureaucracy, and Kafkaism.’
    • ‘Martins's two short ballets, both to John Adams music, are unabashed make-work.’
    • ‘One is inclined to dismiss all this as product of institutional delusion or bureaucratic make-work.’
    • ‘Then they give the companies all kinds of make-work in exchange.’



/ˈmeɪk ˌwərk/