Definition of work something out in English:

work something out

phrasal verb

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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    calculate, compute, reckon up, determine
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    1. 1.1 Solve 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.’
      • ‘For those of you who I sent the ‘Freaky site’ email to and who haven't worked it out, here is the answer.’
      • ‘It baffled him for ages, until he finally worked it out.’
      • ‘The joke is that the slogan looks Dutch, until you work it out.’
      understand, comprehend, puzzle out, sort out, reason out, make sense of, think out, think through, get to the bottom of, make head or tail of, solve, find an answer to, find an solution to, unravel, untangle, decipher, decode, find the key to, piece together
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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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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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  • 3literary Accomplish 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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  • 4usually be worked outWork 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.’