Definition of waterwork in English:



  • 1A mechanism for raising, conveying, or distributing water.

  • 2In plural The system of reservoirs, pipes, and machinery by which water is obtained, stored, purified, and supplied to an area or a town; a water pumping or purifying station.

  • 3In plural figurative euphemism. The urinary system.

  • 4A kind of mural painted in imitation of a tapestry in size or distemper. Now historical.

  • 5Chiefly in plural Work concerned with hydraulic engineering, irrigation, drainage, etc. Now rare.

  • 6A device or structure which produces an ornamental or spectacular display of water; an ornamental fountain or cascade. Also: a display of this type. Usually in plural Compare "firework" 3c. Now chiefly historical.

  • 7Tears, weeping, especially when regarded as being forced, cynically manipulative, or overdramatic. In later use often in "to turn on the waterworks".

  • 8In other figurative uses: †lava flow (obsolete rare); rain.

  • 9In various contexts: a thing done or occurring in, on, or by means of water. Also as a mass noun: activity performed with or in water.


Late Middle English. From water + work.