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    • ‘Too many of us are still attached to the outdated belief that success comes from a result of hard work.’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
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    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
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    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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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verb

[no object]
  • 1Be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a purpose or result, especially in one's job; do work.

    ‘an engineer who had been working on a design for a more efficient wing’
    ‘new contracts forcing employees to work longer hours’
    • ‘He worked and enjoyed different things than going out and working on the tennis.’
    • ‘Some of this is the result of efforts by the town council and some is the result of the council working with others to achieve them.’
    • ‘How was it like to come from working on your own to working with three other people on a project that was already established?’
    • ‘He wasn't working on the case, but was familiar with the gang Aaron worked for.’
    • ‘The employees were given notes revealing how many hours they had worked at Jordan's.’
    • ‘We have been working on it but maybe we are working with players who are slow to pick up on it.’
    • ‘I would like to offer my congratulations to all those pupils and staff who have worked hard towards achieving this great set of results.’
    • ‘The work ethic culture has resulted in men working longer hours than in any other European country.’
    • ‘Despite my physical and mental exhaustion, the three of us worked well together and we had a good time.’
    • ‘She worked hard all her life, rearing her family and working on the farm.’
    • ‘He claimed that if a certain large deal he was working on came off, he would never have to work again.’
    • ‘We are now working on a one delivery a day basis, with mail being extremely busy and personnel working under immense pressure.’
    • ‘My dad works during the day, but when he's home he's usually working on his car or playing ball with my brothers.’
    • ‘Although women worked longer hours than men, their contribution to family activities was less appreciated.’
    • ‘One of the great highlights of working on the show has been working with Henry Winkler.’
    • ‘Was working on it very different from working with the whole band?’
    • ‘This is the least amount of money that an employer may pay an employee per hour worked.’
    • ‘Chudleigh added that principals were working longer hours under tremendous pressure.’
    • ‘To do so is grossly unfair to the students who work so hard to achieve those results.’
    • ‘California says overtime starts any day an hourly employee works over eight hours in a day.’
    toil, labour, exert oneself, slave, slave away, plod away
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Be employed in a specified occupation or field.
      ‘Taylor has worked in education for 17 years’
      • ‘Ann worked as a field sales co-ordinator, organising a sales force operating throughout the country.’
      • ‘Frank worked in the Paper Mills and Waterford Crystal for a number of years and for the last few years he worked as a taxi driver.’
      • ‘For years Paul had worked in the hospitality business working mainly in bars that had loud music.’
      • ‘He worked as a ranger employed by the council at the Flitch Way Country Park, which runs from Bishop's Stortford to Braintree.’
      • ‘He had previously worked as a business and town planner for Boots in Nottingham, where he still lives.’
      • ‘He took courses in the field, then worked as a nightclub bouncer and a bodyguard.’
      • ‘I've never ever worked in an office before, I've only ever worked as a waitress.’
      • ‘He worked for much of the time as an engineer, working on the fortifications of various cities.’
      • ‘Before becoming an MSP, Martin worked as a researcher and was employed to take minutes of the party's cabinet meetings.’
      • ‘Geoff also worked as the occupational medical officer at the then Phillips television factory in Dunfermline.’
      • ‘Many worked as farmers in fields owned by the lords and their lives were controlled by the farming year.’
      • ‘He worked as a bookkeeper at various other businesses in Steinbach until his retirement at age 70.’
      • ‘Before that, he had worked as a volunteer in youth clubs, while employed as a printing and advertising manager.’
      • ‘She also worked as a careers consultant at Shenfield High for 16 years.’
      • ‘I worked as a cardex clerk for one company and was employed at a car hire company.’
      • ‘In Blagoevgrad, Smith worked as a small business development volunteer.’
      • ‘Tralee native June Hewitt has worked as a professional artist from her home studio for a number of years.’
      • ‘He has worked as a professional actor and singer in the West End but increasingly he is drawn to directing.’
      • ‘Mr Woodall now plans to work as a heavy goods vehicle driver, and has abandoned the idea of ever working on a ship again.’
      • ‘She worked as a secretary and had no occupational exposure to toxic fumes.’
      be employed, have a job, earn one's living, hold down a job, do business, follow one's trade, ply one's trade
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Set to or keep at work.
      ‘Jane is working you too hard’
      • ‘He works you really hard and demands that things are done right.’
      • ‘Stefano works Claudio hard, but provides digs in his house and introduces him to the world of drag racing.’
      • ‘He was demanding as a director, but I wouldn't agree that he worked you too hard.’
      • ‘Bruce works his pupils hard, but there is a great atmosphere in his gym, and between yelling at us to try harder, he finds plenty of time to talk smack to everyone.’
      • ‘Kat thinks that Chrissie's working her too hard, and persuades her to give Little Mo the time off.’
      • ‘Yes, we worked you too hard in the last case, Mr Besanko, we would like to hear first from the respondent.’
      • ‘The fitness coaches worked us hard in pre-season, and they are still working us hard.’
      • ‘They worked me so hard I can't remember my 20s, apart from the fact I broke out in rashes.’
      • ‘It only took four days to fit it all together but she worked me hard.’
      • ‘He works Miles hard and does all the thinking for Angus, who, right from the beginning, is seen to be a few straws short of a bale.’
      • ‘Honestly, he worked us hard, but after the session I actually had so much energy I felt like doing another hour!’
      • ‘The smallest petrol version proved a willing performer and very refined, even when being worked hard.’
      • ‘The rich, throat-catching smell of hard worked packhorses hit me even as I drew in a sharp gasp of amazement.’
      • ‘Hopefully, we know him now and we know we can work him harder and that he is able for it.’
      • ‘Duck legs have fairly tough meat - the legs are worked hard during their lifespan, making the flesh taut and muscly.’
      • ‘We have got a great goalkeeping coach called Seamus McDonagh who works you hard and is very encouraging.’
      • ‘His wife, who is a very smart and capable campaigner in her own right, has also worked the press very hard.’
      • ‘Claudio Bozzini, the club's goalkeeping coach, works his three charges hard.’
    3. 1.3with object Solve (a puzzle or mathematical problem)
      ‘she spent her days working crosswords’
      • ‘Charlie found him busy at the kitchen table, working yet another crossword puzzle.’
      • ‘I had worked the problem almost to the end but needed their dial up access number for the final stage.’
      • ‘The instructor also worked problems and reviewed problems from past quizzes in the class.’
      • ‘It was about this argument I had with a woman on a plane and about working a crossword puzzle.’
      • ‘So I just dug around and found a sheet or two where we'd taken a listless stab at working a problem.’
      • ‘Lay and Strang end each section with short sets of fully worked sample problems.’
    4. 1.4with object Practice one's occupation or operate in or at (a particular place)
      ‘I worked a few clubs and so forth’
      • ‘You're working the streets, you go home at night, you take a hit and fall asleep in your clothes.’
      • ‘Why was T J Hooker still working the streets when he was a Sergeant, and should have been ensconced in a cosy desk job at his age?’
      • ‘For a nostalgic two hours, the rag and bone man was working the streets of Salford again.’
      • ‘By 1841 the old Carleton Hall estate was worked by three farmers, possibly tenants of Lane Fox estates.’
      • ‘He worked the farm with one of his brothers and combined it with rugby, but when his brother wanted to set up his own business Logan bought him out.’
      • ‘His father owned and worked a small farm of some fifty acres in County Derry in Northern Ireland.’
      • ‘Beats the hell out of stripping or working the streets like some whore doesn't it?’
      • ‘Lynda has now come off the drugs and the drink - and she has turned her back on working the streets.’
      • ‘Most of the prostitutes working the streets have a drug problem, and fund their habit by prostitution.’
      • ‘Once a farm was farmed by many men/women and their families, but nowadays farms are often worked by one person.’
      • ‘Donna has dreams of working the friendly skies of New York and Paris and isn't ready to give her heart to anyone just yet.’
      • ‘Men were busy working on architecture or training in the army while young ladies worked the market place.’
      • ‘She may be a prostitute working the streets of Leith but she still has standards.’
      • ‘The Moore Valley farmer said he has six sons and one daughter, but Pat the eldest son works the farm with him.’
      • ‘If you're working an area where there is a fast tide, then you should still be able to get away with an uptide rod and say 6ozs of lead.’
      • ‘The evening takes the form of a memory play told by the elderly Kat, now a shoeshine boy working the streets, who looks back at his younger self.’
      • ‘One of six children, his father worked a small farm and laboured for the county council to make ends meet.’
      • ‘Nobody that has ever worked the killing room will ever tell you that you will catch every one, no matter how hard you try.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2(of a machine or system) operate or function, especially properly or effectively.

    ‘his cell phone doesn't work unless he goes to a high point’
    • ‘I'm told the in-car Global Satellite Positioning system is not working properly.’
    • ‘A warning device must be installed to alert you if the system stops working properly.’
    • ‘When CIS was updating its website, it organised dummy runs to ensure that its systems were working properly.’
    • ‘I think that saying this system works if properly executed is to miss the point.’
    • ‘She was told the machines were not working and that she must come back on another day.’
    • ‘But even at the highest levels there is a tacit acknowledgment that the system is not working properly.’
    • ‘Fires were started, however, none caught as the sprinkler system worked effectively.’
    • ‘So many of our institutions and systems are not working properly, including the judiciary.’
    • ‘We call them mistakes because the machine isn't working the way we think it should.’
    • ‘His first machine did not work so he took it to England and with help got it working.’
    • ‘Although it is of the same size as an old sewing machine, it still works fine.’
    • ‘Make sure that whomever you buy from is willing to work with you until the system is working properly.’
    • ‘We react with surprise and shock when things go wrong with our own molecular machinery, but it is far more astonishing that the machinery works at all.’
    • ‘I want to make sure the court system is working properly and is going to do correct justice.’
    • ‘It could be necessary after a virus attack to roll back to a time when the system worked properly.’
    • ‘The best thing was that the AccuVote machine worked the way it was supposed to work.’
    • ‘It's an example of litigation which needn't have happened had the system worked properly.’
    • ‘Walhi's lawyers, however, said the early warning system had not worked properly.’
    • ‘He has literally kept some of our offices and machines working by duct tape and force of will alone.’
    • ‘Hans had promised him that the machine would work this time and now was the time to prove it.’
    function, go, run, operate, perform
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (of a machine or a part of it) run; go through regular motions.
      ‘it's designed to go into a special “rest” state when it's not working’
    2. 2.2with object Cause (a device or machine) to operate.
      ‘teaching customers how to work a PC’
      • ‘As we are a school, it is insane having a lab where 4-6 machines are not working at one time.’
      • ‘A machine working two shifts costs much less by the hour than that same machine working a single shift.’
      • ‘The machine worked all hours - if it did not break down - and it needed few people to keep it running.’
      • ‘The travel back was one filled with only the sound of the heater blowing and the engine working.’
      • ‘He looked back at the counter where a blonde haired girl was busy working the machines.’
      • ‘Dad worked these trains regularly and for many years they were his regular assignment.’
      • ‘Before the advent of the computer I worked a manual Comptometer machine, the keys of which had to be pounded.’
      • ‘She sees an Asian woman having difficulty working the machine and helps her to understand it.’
      • ‘As the machine worked, Raven straightened, allowing herself a moment to rub the ache in her side.’
      • ‘Women snigger at men for being unable to work a washing machine, men snigger at women for being bad drivers.’
      • ‘He talked to her as the machines worked, repairing the damage that his blast had wreaked.’
      operate, use, handle, control, manipulate, manoeuvre, drive, run, direct
      View synonyms
  • 3(of a plan or method) have the desired result or effect.

    ‘the desperate ploy had worked’
    • ‘Jack's plan is working - to prove she's useless and then she won't be a threat.’
    • ‘It's annoying me more than anyone that my plan isn't working, believe me.’
    • ‘Fortunately, their plan worked - but not without huge barriers along the way.’
    • ‘The company was restructured five times in five years; no plan worked better than the last one.’
    • ‘Jacquelyn stood in awe that her plan actually worked and as a result she could barely move.’
    • ‘Indeed for most of the first half the Down tactical plan had worked marvellously.’
    • ‘It is a propaganda unit designed to sell the message that this Government's strategic plan is working.’
    • ‘I assume the method works better if it is used after serious sleep deprivation.’
    • ‘In both cases the game plan worked, and McClaren admitted that the result was a huge relief.’
    • ‘This method works only with insurance plans that use coinsurance, where patients pay a portion of their bills until they reach a maximum.’
    • ‘Of course, this method works best when the kids hear a title they really do enjoy.’
    • ‘If you can't decide which method works best for you, experiment with one each day.’
    • ‘If the CCTV pilot plan works, the scheme, already hugely successful on local buses, could be extended to other taxis.’
    • ‘Early indications are that the method is working and biologists are planning to eventually restock the area with young fish.’
    • ‘Whether Brown's plan works or not could decide who becomes the next Prime Minister.’
    • ‘This method works if the water reservoir in the top 5 feet of soil is at or near field capacity at planting time.’
    • ‘On Wednesday Beau was freaking out about the plan not working, so I was actually a bit concerned.’
    • ‘This method works satisfactorily and is technically the simplest of the 3 options.’
    • ‘We had a great time stalking redfish in two feet of water with fly or spinning rod, both methods worked for us.’
    • ‘Apparantly this method works due to the way our brains store information, and how the things we remember are reinforced each time we look at them.’
    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
    1. 3.1with object Bring about; produce as a result.
      ‘with a dash of blusher here and there, you can work miracles’
      • ‘England do not have anyone to come in and work miracles and it would be foolish to pick a new team and hope for the best.’
      • ‘He was pretending, she should have known that getting his attention was like working a miracle.’
      • ‘And God wrought special miracles by the hand of Paul’
      • ‘I have often lived through that hour, that day, that week, in which was wrought the miracle of my transition from one world into another; for I did indeed pass into another world.’
      • ‘Check out these before and after photos to see how cheaply and easily miracles can be worked.’
      • ‘Anyway, lame puns aside, the cast of Hollyoaks have worked a miracle.’
      • ‘It can't be stated enough how everyone should thank them both - they have worked a miracle.’
      • ‘A balanced diet together with a gentle daily or weekly exercise regime can work miracles.’
      • ‘However, having protested defeat by the venison, Vix worked her usual miracle and found room for a pudding.’
      • ‘For Hugh, a 22-year-old IT worker, has wrought a minor miracle.’
      • ‘What is certain is that if Barwick could work that miracle, merely knighting him would be an insult.’
      • ‘Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed and signs and wonders will follow the believers.’
      • ‘The ground staff worked miracles at Collegiate to make the pitch playable, albeit for a game reduced to 36 overs.’
      • ‘If ever a country provided its team with all the motivation they needed to work miracles, then this is surely it.’
      • ‘Sometimes a word of truth works the miracle, but, at times, years of preaching will do nothing.’
      • ‘If you could work that kind of miracle, you could go into medicine and make a mint.’
      • ‘And now, when my son Jamie is almost the same age, I realize my father worked a miracle!’
      • ‘We were convinced she was going to die, but fortunately the doctors worked a miracle.’
      • ‘Not that they didn't work the odd miracle at the odd club, but for years the glories they traded on were well past.’
      • ‘The miracle has been wrought by recognising health as a human right - and therefore the responsibility of the state - and acting accordingly.’
      bring about, accomplish, achieve, produce, do, perform, carry out, implement, execute, create, engender, contrive, effect
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2 Make efforts to achieve something; campaign.
      ‘they are dedicated to working for a better future for the generations to come’
      • ‘Others, who have been working for long-term solutions, don't have much to cheer about.’
      • ‘Both local authorities say they are committed to working for better transport links and these efforts must continue.’
      • ‘The deans and chancellors of these institutions are committed to working for change.’
      • ‘But just because they are in Canada does not mean they have stopped working for the Burmese people.’
      • ‘By adding borrowed money to your own funds you can increase the total amount of money working for you.’
      • ‘That we are truly working for the common good - a good which really delivers the well-being and the flourishing of us all.’
      • ‘Legendre, an unemployed father of three, occupies all his free time working for the revolution.’
      • ‘He was in the forefront for a number of these issues, working for the poor and the needy and homeless.’
    3. 3.3informal with object Arrange or contrive.
      ‘the chairman was prepared to work it for Phillip if he was interested’
      • ‘That inactivity puts a greater premium on working a deal with unrestricted free agent James Dexter, its projected starter at left guard.’
      • ‘Sadly it wouldn't be human if someone hadn't managed to work an angle on how to turn what happened to the city yesterday to their advantage.’
      • ‘His editor, Clive Barnaby, wanted someone on the job who was prepared to work the local angles.’
    4. 3.4work on/upon Exert influence or use one's persuasive power on (someone or their feelings)
      ‘she worked upon the sympathy of her associates’
      • ‘Some occult influence was at work upon me throughout those dark hours, I am positively certain.’
      • ‘Your class gave me the tools to understand the forces at work upon my conscience and to make a reasoned decision.’
      • ‘In that moment, I became absurdly sure that a supernatural force was working upon me, pushing and pulling me toward an unknown fate, a road at whose end stood the slight, cold figure currently bargaining with my father.’
      • ‘Even now we are working on Mr Flintoff being a guest upon his return from Down Under.’
      • ‘At this late stage, the elites found themselves forced to work upon the increasingly dysfunctional myths.’
      persuade, manipulate, influence, sway, put pressure on, lean on
      View synonyms
    5. 3.5with object Use one's persuasive power to stir the emotions of (a person or group of people)
      ‘the born politician's art of working a crowd’
      • ‘Clad in gladrags and working the crowds Al Gore made a democratic appearance.’
      • ‘He worked the crowd brilliantly, and was to keep everyone laughing through what proved a long night.’
      • ‘Still, one had to marvel again at the man's enthusiasm for working a crowd, even someone else's.’
      • ‘Not only did he play a good match, at just 18 years of age he was working the crowd like a pro!’
      • ‘He knows how to work a crowd, he gives a good sermon and produces a splendid pulpit sweat.’
      • ‘Christine Caughey and Richard Simpson turned up to have a peek at our meeting and our working the crowd.’
      • ‘He is brilliant when he works the crowd with his radio mike.’
      • ‘His concerns were for war and peace, grand speeches, red carpets and working the crowds.’
      • ‘Our bit was well received and Gilz did an excellent job of working the crowd.’
      • ‘You don't get to have a decent career in music without knowing how to work a crowd.’
      • ‘Just before battle commenced, some of the warriors worked the crowd to get them in the mood.’
      • ‘It lasted around five hours, with a number of musicians and speakers working a crowd, made up of all ethnic backgrounds.’
      • ‘Big ups also go to Leon Wadham and his beautiful cardie, who worked the crowd like a seasoned professional.’
      • ‘In between speakers, the chairman, introduced only as Jack, works the crowd like an old hand.’
      • ‘The Beastie Boys worked the crowd into a frenzy when they ran off to a smaller stage at the venue's opposite end.’
      • ‘The man knows how to work the crowd, but the smiley banter between songs keeps it from looking too cynical.’
      • ‘Justin is a fantastic front man who definitely knows how to work a crowd.’
      • ‘He's working the crowd, but it's more like he wants to than he has to.’
      • ‘Another person who could be seen working the crowd was director Jayaraj.’
      • ‘He hopped about energetically, did the trademark Edwin moves, played congas and really worked the crowd.’
      stir, stir up, excite, drive, move, spur, rouse, fire, galvanize
      View synonyms
  • 4with object and adverbial or complement Bring (a material or mixture) to a desired shape or consistency by hammering, kneading, or some other method.

    ‘work the mixture into a paste with your hands’
    • ‘Using your fingers, draw in the flour and work the mixture into a dough, adding more water if necessary.’
    • ‘The kneading can be quite tiring but you need to work the dough if the bread is going to be good.’
    • ‘Preferably, soil should be worked up at least four to six weeks before roses are planted in a new bed.’
    • ‘The hammer is for hammering in the nails that lie next to it, for working the leather into shoes, and so on.’
    • ‘It is important to work the dough until it is nice and shiny, as this gives it the al dente texture.’
    • ‘Then the mixture is worked, gently at first, and then more vigorously.’
    • ‘The bare receiver forging is impressive, especially to anyone who works metal for a living.’
    • ‘That's the reason for the standard caution against working the soil too early in the year.’
    • ‘Here it is not advisable to work the soil too well for this promotes weed growth.’
    • ‘Prepare a site for wildflowers by working the soil using a spade, rototiller or plow.’
    • ‘The early medieval carpenter was not only skilled in working the wood, but also in selecting the correct timber and shape for the job.’
    • ‘Rub the butter into the flour mixture, working until you have no lumps bigger than a pea.’
    • ‘For most of the United States, plant strawberries in spring as soon as the soil can be worked.’
    • ‘Next add the ginger, turmeric and oil and work the ingredients into a thick brown paste.’
    • ‘The efficient cause of a baked clay vase is the artist who works the clay and then bakes it.’
    • ‘Dip your fingers into it before working the rice and it'll all be a lot simpler.’
    • ‘Leather is worked into luxurious softness and seams are reduced to a bare minimum.’
    • ‘Sift the flour with the baking powder into the bowl and work the mixture with your hand until it forms a firm dough.’
    • ‘He works the metal into small chunks before swallowing it, his stomach acids fizz at it, then it blasts out at high speed the other end.’
    • ‘By working the metal, as by cold rolling, its strength can be approximately doubled.’
    knead, squeeze, form, shape, fashion, mould, model
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1work in (of an artist) produce articles or pictures using (a particular material or medium)
      ‘he works in clay over a very strong frame’
      • ‘Dr. Bob works in cypress, training trees over many years to grow in specific shapes.’
      • ‘As well as using clear, sandblasted glass, Kelly works in cheery yellow and orange.’
      • ‘The limner was never solely a miniaturist, but worked in other formats and media too.’
    2. 4.2with object Produce (an article or design) using a specified material or sewing stitch.
      ‘the castle itself is worked in tent stitch’
      • ‘I'm working these on 72 stitches, using some Regia Shadow that was in my stash.’
      • ‘The pole screens had very finely worked needlework panels, often executed during their hours of leisure by the ladies of the house.’
      • ‘I then worked a satin type stitch down each side, with a different design down the middle.’
      • ‘I'm sure you could work some neat designs into the building front using the colour differences.’
      • ‘A large allegorical needlework picture wrought by Agnes Park hangs above the mantel.’
      • ‘Beautifully worked stitches feature in many examples of white work in children's dresses and gowns.’
    3. 4.3with object Cultivate (land) or extract materials from (a mine or quarry)
      ‘contracts and leases to work the mines’
      • ‘The row of cottages below and behind you, is known as Irish Row, named after some of the men who worked the mines.’
      • ‘The ones who were still working the mines by choice were paid at the end of the week, I found out.’
      • ‘Mr Spargo took shares in a company formed for working a mine which he sold to the company.’
      • ‘Wanlockhead was, like the neighbouring village of Leadhills, built as a mining town, housing the men who worked the lead mines.’
      • ‘He shows us the new checkpoints and yellow gates that let farmers work the land on either side of the divide.’
      • ‘This may well have been the case but the company only worked the mine for a short time during which several thousand tons of ore were treated.’
      • ‘The legend has it that Peralta worked the mine with a high return for several years.’
      • ‘One of the local farmers working their land on the steep banks of the lake, perhaps?’
      • ‘For the most part, the goblins worked the mines, humans were only sent there for punishment.’
      • ‘Mines were being worked by strange creatures and humanoid statues with pickaxes for hands.’
      • ‘Gilberth explains how his practices have changed even in the few years he's worked this land.’
      • ‘It's a common assumption that most homes had a slave or two, while most farms and quarries were almost exclusively worked by slave labor.’
      • ‘All mining is done on a small scale, with just a few people working each mine.’
      • ‘Over the next 40 years, many companies worked mines along the difficult Mokau River.’
      • ‘It is the rent that kings took for allowing the serfs and others to work the land that the kings owned.’
      • ‘Serfs worked the land and produced the goods that the lord and his manor needed.’
      • ‘They were farming people who worked the land and tended to the livestock.’
      • ‘In time of war, the other farmers would work his land, which was granted by the state.’
      • ‘The pastoralist class disperse the great mass of peasants who traditionally worked the land under the thumb of feudal landlords.’
      • ‘The mine has been worked for its red, green and white salt for over 700 years and it is still operational.’
      cultivate, farm, till, plough
      View synonyms
  • 5with adverbial or complement Move or cause to move gradually or with difficulty into another position, typically by means of constant movement or pressure.

    with object ‘comb from tip to root, working out the knots at the end’
    no object ‘its bases were already working loose’
    • ‘Our advice is to secure it very firmly, be conservative with your speed and make frequent stops to ensure it isn't working loose.’
    • ‘He sewed me up again and told me if they worked loose again, that I shouldn't be concerned, because I was healing very quickly.’
    • ‘Several of my toes commenced to blacken and fester near the tips and the nails worked loose.’
    • ‘No matter how tightly I tie the things they work loose after about twenty steps.’
    manoeuvre, manipulate, negotiate, guide, edge
    manoeuvre, make, thread, wind, weave
    View synonyms
    1. 5.1 (of a person's features) move violently or convulsively.
      ‘hair wild, mouth working furiously’
      • ‘Mike was glaring at Richard, his eyes dark, a muscle in his cheek working furiously.’
      • ‘Sekher lay sprawled upon his back, twitching spasmodically, mouth working silently.’
      • ‘The muscles in his jaw were working furiously as he clenched and unclenched his fingers.’
      • ‘Rena was gaping like a fish, her mouth working furiously but she didn't emit a single word.’
      • ‘Her mouth was working silently, trying to form words but unable to receive any from her brain.’
      • ‘Her mouth worked furiously trying to come up some excuse for her outburst.’
      • ‘His watery eyes blink at me and his mouth works without speech.’
      • ‘Her other hand is at the back of my head now, her jaw working as if my mouth is a pulpy piece of fruit she's eating.’
      • ‘She gapes at us and her mouth works but no sound issues forth.’
      • ‘Tothas stared at him, mouth working with fear for his mistress, then nodded sharply.’
      twitch, quiver, twist, move spasmodically, convulse
      View synonyms
    2. 5.2 (of joints, such as those in a wooden ship) loosen and flex under repeated stress.
    3. 5.3Sailing no object, with adverbial Make progress to windward, with repeated tacking.
      ‘trying to work to windward in light airs’
      • ‘A weatherly ship is one that works well to windward, making but little leeway.’
  • 6Bring into a specified state, especially an emotional state.

    ‘Harold had worked himself into a minor rage’
    • ‘Without rubbing his nose in the emotional frenzy he works himself into, try talking calmly to your boyfriend and take a stab at joint problem solving.’
    • ‘Everybody's working themselves into a lather over one mad cow, and it's bloody ridiculous.’
    • ‘Kenneth inwardly winced, but she said nothing, just fluttered about, working herself into a proper fury until Jeremy left.’
    • ‘Finally I had worked myself into a state of hysterics so much so that I could not breathe.’
    • ‘I agree with Mr. Jenkins, I think you can work yourself into a state of real paranoia here if you're not careful.’
    stir, stir up, excite, drive, move, spur, rouse, fire, galvanize
    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
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    • 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
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    • 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
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  • 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
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      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
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    • 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
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    • 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
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    • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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/