Definition of work in English:

work

noun

  • 1Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result:

    ‘he was tired after a day's work in the fields’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Starting the business was hard work but Angela's efforts are finally paying off.’
    • ‘Brilliant breakthroughs can emerge as a result of hard work and disciplined effort.’
    • ‘It's just a tribute to all of the hard work and effort that's gone into the program by our teams and drivers.’
    • ‘This is the result of much hard work throughout the council to drive up standards.’
    • ‘That means half a kilo per day will keep a man doing heavy physical work.’
    • ‘The team is now finally seeing the results of their hard work done during the test sessions and in the first few races.’
    • ‘We owe it to our customers and to our funders to show them the results of our work.’
    • ‘But picking the olives is hard physical work, and the rewards are far from certain.’
    • ‘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    • ‘Too many of us are still attached to the outdated belief that success comes from a result of hard work.’
    • ‘The pain may result in inability to do routine work or household activities.’
    • ‘This is the result of a lot of research, a lot of work, a lot of effort over a very long time.’
    • ‘By your hard work and your effort, you are actively advancing the growth of our nation.’
    • ‘The show was a mixture of theatrics, gymnastics, acting and physical hard work.’
    • ‘He has put a lot of effort into his pre-season work and not only with his bikes.’
    • ‘The students must come first: they are the ones who actively do the work and achieve the results.’
    • ‘Be it as a player or a coach or otherwise success only comes as a result of hard work and effort.’
    • ‘Even then there was congestion on the bridge as a result of resurfacing work.’
    • ‘Much work and effort has been put into the event by the organisers and events committee.’
    labour, toil, exertion, effort, slog, drudgery, the sweat of one's brow
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Work as a means of earning income; employment:
      ‘I'm still looking for work’
      • ‘After I met with him, it was clear that his personality didn't entirely mesh with his line of work.’
      • ‘With remarkable royal originality, the Prince first inquired as to Ron's 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.’
      • ‘The firm set up a mini job centre on site to help employees find new work.’
      • ‘The younger Byer tried a different line of work early in his career, but it was not meant to be.’
      • ‘With their matching broken noses, the three left the pub in pursuit of a less hazardous line of work.’
      • ‘We have secured revenue streams through consultancy work and product income.’
      • ‘In my situation, one of the reasons why I have remained here, is because of my line of work.’
      • ‘He does not say anything about his prospect of finding work or the efforts he is making.’
      • ‘Isn't she afraid of the competition that is suddenly surfacing in her line of work?’
      • ‘It's for six months which is really good for an actress to get so much work and a steady income.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘John was a well known and accomplished tailor and was gifted in that line of work.’
      • ‘Tade could turn his hand to any type of work and earned his living from his own expertise.’
      • ‘Anything that has to do with my line of work, I'm the one everyone in my company calls.’
      • ‘Many feel on edge and one woman claimed to have given up work as a result of the stress.’
      • ‘Sometimes he thinks about this but he can always justify his line of work.’
      • ‘This will affect them in later life and may hamper their efforts to find work, she said.’
      • ‘Clarks said it would provide support to employees seeking alternative work.’
      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’
      • ‘Popping any bonuses you receive from work will earn tax relief too, so you'll hang onto more of your money!’
      • ‘I dropped the car off and walked to the nearby station to catch the train into work.’
      • ‘Mrs Jenkins knew nothing about the scam until her bank called one evening when she returned from work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Naburn residents left for work today with little hope that they would be able to return this evening.’
      • ‘I caught one of my consultant colleagues sneaking into work with one under his arm.’
      • ‘One of the main problems is that owners are too affectionate with their dogs when they return from work.’
      • ‘However we had to get going as I'd promised to pop into work briefly to check out my new laptop.’
      • ‘The unprovoked attack happened as he returned from work earlier this month.’
      • ‘Yesterday a very large cardboard box was waiting for me when I returned from work.’
      • ‘Alteration in lifestyle involves a reduction in physical activity in work and the home.’
      • ‘Three hours later, smoke was seen coming from her door by a person returning from work.’
      • ‘Her husband returned from work later in the day and wondered what on earth was going on.’
      • ‘On the day of his death, he returned from work as usual, exercised the dog, and went to sleep in the front bedroom.’
      • ‘Then we'd have to have transportation to and from work, so that meant we'd have to buy a car.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hopefully, Daniel would be able to cast some light upon her whereabouts when he returned from work.’
      • ‘By the time her flatmates return from work, the victim has become the oppressor.’
    3. 1.3 The period of time one spends in paid employment:
      ‘he was going to the theatre after work’
      • ‘Flexible working is a range of options designed to help employees balance work and home life.’
      • ‘On the third day, he decided to report for work at the KFC, acting as if nothing had happened.’
      • ‘Bloody Leo meets Paddy at the bar after work and is once again looking down in the dumps.’
      • ‘Drivers can turn up for work and report that they have taken medication, and are unsure if they are fit to drive.’
      • ‘He was referring to a woman who worked as a clerk at a police chowky and had not reported for work for days.’
      • ‘Looked at the timetable for work over the next fortnight, I'm down some hours but it's not too bad.’
      • ‘Flags flew at half-mast and non-essential staff were told not to report for work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 1.4West Indian [count noun] A job:
      ‘I decided to get a work’
      • ‘Now that his show has been suspended, unemployed Chris has picked up his cutlass and is looking for a work.’
      • ‘With them movements she was a gwaan wid, she could easily hold a work as a Go Go in any one of our popular night spots.’
      job, day job, profession, line of work, line of business, trade, employment, position, post, situation, business, career, métier, vocation, calling, craft, skill, field, province, walk of life
      View synonyms
  • 2A task or tasks to be undertaken:

    ‘they made sure the work was progressing smoothly’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Twelve men have been flown in to make sure refitting work is finished on time.’
    • ‘Some of his early years were spent over in England where he undertook a variety of work.’
    • ‘The plan was in the process of being implemented and an enormous amount of work had been undertaken.’
    • ‘It is they who decide what work is undertaken and who gets employed and paid and so on.’
    • ‘There were no signs of any work having recently been undertaken or completed.’
    • ‘Our trip was very successful as we undertook a lot of work for the orphanage in the week we were there.’
    • ‘The successful bid would include a specification of the work and materials and prices.’
    • ‘Undertaking this work may disturb the sediment and release the contaminants in the water.’
    • ‘Also, is it reasonable to stipulate that no work be undertaken over the weekend?’
    • ‘He undertook this work for seven years and showed reals talents in his job.’
    • ‘Remedial work has now been undertaken and a small population continues to survive there.’
    • ‘A programme of repair and maintenance work was undertaken on parts of Hadrian's Wall.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘An area action plan will be produced which details when and how that work will be undertaken.’
    • ‘He will not therefore be undertaking any work within the cathedral until this matter is concluded.’
    • ‘He has done a small number of private commissions but has undertaken no major painting work.’
    tasks, jobs, duties, assignments, commissions, projects
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 The materials for a task:
      ‘she frequently took work home with her’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He is often at the office until 8pm and always brings work home.’
    2. 2.2in combination" or with "modifier worksBritish Activity involving construction or repair:
      ‘extra costs caused by additional building works’
      • ‘It may be because there are bound to be some changes during repair works, he adds.’
      • ‘Of course they attend to a few repair works of less significance, which involve a sum that does not pinch their purse.’
      • ‘Cement, also a must in construction works, can also be produced from sea sand.’
      • ‘After the end of the summer season, coastal construction works are once again underway.’
      • ‘Delay in construction works, however, led to the necessity for the purchase of 313 trailers.’
      • ‘But the Turkish companies failed to fulfil their engagements in the construction works.’
      • ‘The mobile barriers plus various internal defence construction works will not prevent all flooding indefinitely.’
      • ‘The road goes through a number of impoverished regions, and it is hoped that construction works will breathe life into them.’
      • ‘Drivers will be relieved to hear that the end of the road is in sight for the long-term repair works near Ashton Keynes.’
      • ‘The railway and road construction works require the removal of land mines strewn across the demilitarized zone.’
      • ‘As per Mr Singh's statement on Monday, the road repair works should have commenced from Tuesday.’
      • ‘It also involves management of daily maintenance and minor repairs and improvement works.’
      • ‘The only explanation would be that people participated in rehabilitation and construction works.’
      • ‘Tucked away between the rubble of building works was my host's modest home.’
      • ‘The goal of the trip was to familiarise officials with the construction works of MNG in the resort and was paid for by the company.’
      • ‘Normally, the workers in these construction works are from outside Kerala.’
      • ‘No additional excavation works were undertaken and no verge crossing was made.’
      • ‘Pavements are not meant for walking, they are for repair works, changing tiles.’
      • ‘In addition to the repair works, part of the HLF money has been allocated for a training programme in heritage skills.’
      • ‘The way in which highway construction works will be conducted will be discussed in March 2006.’
    3. 2.3informal Cosmetic plastic surgery:
      ‘between you and me, I think he's had some work done’
      • ‘Today every woman I know has had a face-lift - or, as they say, work done - with good and bad results.’
      • ‘The ironic thing is that when younger women get all that work done, they end up looking older.’
      • ‘The plastic surgeon says he has done work on celebrities, but he won't name names because of patient confidentiality.’
      • ‘I think her breasts have definitely had work done.’
      • ‘Why would she have had work? She still looks gorgeous.’
      • ‘I think he might be my fave celeb even if he has had a bit of 'work'.’
      • ‘She's obviously had work done to her nose.’
      • ‘She seems to have had so much work done, subtle and not so subtle, that she looks like a marmorealized version of herself.’
      • ‘If her face has had a lot of work, then it's probably more likely that all sorts of other things have, too.’
      • ‘Knifeless work on men, including botox injections, has increased 722 percent since 1997.’
    4. 2.4worksTheology 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.’
      • ‘Abraham was justified by works when he offered Isaac.’
      • ‘Indeed, evangelical Christians should be foremost in good deeds and leaders in works of charity.’
      • ‘How can I do good works if I am physically not able to work?’
      • ‘For no matter how good our deeds or works may be, they cannot satisfy God 100%.’
  • 3A thing or things done or made; the result of an action:

    ‘her work hangs in all the main American collections’
    ‘the bombing had been the work of a German-based cell’
    • ‘Principals may take the limelight in a musical but chorus work is the lifeblood of it.’
    • ‘Young filmmakers hoping to make it in the movies are showcasing their work next week.’
    • ‘Thanks so much for your work, both on screen and in books, graphic and otherwise.’
    • ‘Looking back, it is clear that it is this interest in real people which saves Boorman's movie work.’
    • ‘Of course he endured it all, but he didn't want it to disturb his creative work.’
    • ‘Since then her career has developed in opera, concert work, recording and broadcasting.’
    • ‘Much of Morrison's work is autobiographical but he says this is his most personal project yet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Fred is a retired vet who still does locum veterinary work and also plays 18 holes of golf twice a week.’
    • ‘So with the movie work, the baby and the wife, does Phillippe have a hard time taking stock of it all?’
    • ‘But of course that is the same reason why his work hangs in museums round the world.’
    • ‘The audience to one of his films shown at the Berlin Film Festival jeered his work as it was being screened.’
    • ‘Perhaps that explains why there have been few truly satisfying screen adaptations of his work.’
    • ‘The only living artist to have his work hung in the Natyet resonates with images of his Dublin Bay home.’
    • ‘The blossoming romance made me ill, a lot of the blue screen work left me unimpressed.’
    • ‘For creative work, cats are excellent to contemplate when they are in repose.’
    • ‘It seems in some ways more of a challenge for him than getting his work hung in the National Galleries.’
    • ‘We did a lot of set-piece work, but later on we did come across Panzer and Tiger tanks.’
    handiwork, doing, act, deed, feat, performance
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    1. 3.1[count noun] A literary or musical composition or other piece of art:
      ‘a work of fiction’
      • ‘It's a work of exactitude in literature not rivalled outside Tristram Shandy.’
      • ‘An earlier pair of works convey the operatic extremes of Brooks's passion for Rubinstein.’
      • ‘While the art embraces stories and traditions going back centuries, most of the works were produced in the last decade.’
      • ‘They can be read from right to left as a book, and often accompany works of literature.’
      • ‘Imported textiles are often used as a base, and artistic batik works are produced for the tourist market.’
      • ‘On the other hand, materials for producing these works might need to be transported from home.’
      • ‘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 hands of the artist or artisan are supposed to produce unique, original works.’
      • ‘Both move me almost to tears in places and are mature works from artists at the peak of their creative powers.’
      • ‘It makes no sense to assume that a university should be assessing the market value of works produced by their fine arts students.’
      • ‘Has it led people to deal with it more as a literary work and less as a media event?’
      • ‘When The Beatles broke up, the individual members produced works like Imagine, All Things Must Pass and Mind Games.’
      • ‘He also noted that many fine artists could produce magnificent works of equine art on commission.’
      • ‘Two of the works produced by the artist in residence will be given to the Central Akademi.’
      • ‘Now he is penning plays, musicals and literary works, and his new audience requires a different kind of chap altogether.’
      • ‘On display now at schools throughout Pattaya are works produced by children based on the theme of children's rights.’
      • ‘Her Magnum Opus Project is commissioning nine new orchestral works and six new compositions.’
      • ‘The wee man was a big artist, producing some huge works including a triptych around two metres high.’
      • ‘Hiding behind humour, he was intensely aware of his inability to produce works of political significance.’
      • ‘The Erotokritos, one of the epic works of Greek literature is told and re-told in much of Cretan music.’
      composition, piece, creation, achievement, accomplishment
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    2. 3.2works The artistic production of a particular author, composer, or artist, regarded collectively:
      ‘the works of Schubert fill several feet of shelf space’
      • ‘Based on the works of author H.P. Lovecraft, the title depicts a world steeped in evil and chaos.’
      • ‘Leonardo was extremely fastidious, but Nicholl reminds us that his exquisite works were the product of titanic labours.’
      • ‘As the name signifies, it will focus on either one of the more melodious Carnatic raagas or the works of a famous composer.’
      • ‘Handel's comparisons of the works of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu are nothing short of brilliant.’
      • ‘The most telling piece of Block's works sits shyly under a window.’
      • ‘Little, however, has been known about the shy schoolmaster who produced these works, some of which he wrote with his brother.’
      • ‘After the death of Liszt in 1888, there was contention among the critical hierarchy over the musical value of his works.’
      • ‘Folklore and religious places are key elements in artist Sunil's works.’
      • ‘You have a right to love her literary works; and I have a right not to.’
      • ‘The works of Mawdudi were translated into Arabic and other languages as early as 1940.’
      • ‘The pieces recalled the boxed works of Cornell, Beuys, and even Keens or Hirst.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fascinating tales of Romeo and Juliet were among Mr David's favorite pieces of Shakespeare's works.’
      • ‘Collectors who have snapped up his works include multi-millionaire composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.’
      • ‘The only artist whose works directly convey a form of social commentary is Sopko.’
      • ‘The Golden Age produced the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer and other Dutch masters.’
      • ‘The South Bank plays host to a month-long retrospective of the English composer's works.’
      • ‘The other principle the artist followed was the artistic value of the works.’
      • ‘They did not know foreign languages and did not seem to appreciate scholars' works.’
      • ‘Few regular readers of Parameters will be unfamiliar with the works of Ralph Peters.’
      writings, oeuvre, canon, output
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    3. 3.3 A piece of embroidery, sewing, or knitting, typically made using a specified stitch or method.
      • ‘The chikan work of Lucknow is perhaps one of the most popular embroidery works in India.’
      • ‘Walker contributed a sewn work entitled Sampler that featured the embroidered text, ‘Wife is a four-letter word’.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 4British works[treated as singular] A place or premises in which industrial or manufacturing processes are carried out:

    ‘he found a job in the locomotive works’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The works will produce top-quality colour magazines, catalogues and newspaper supplements.’
    • ‘He later became known as the Hammerman Poet after his work as a hammerman in the steam hammer shop at the works.’
    • ‘The company's 10 workers escaped without injury, but part of the works roof and machinery is badly damaged.’
    • ‘The first of these is the Civil Engineering Works associated with the construction of the treatment works.’
    • ‘The first commercial oil shale works were constructed at Port Kembla in 1865.’
    • ‘He said the company's chief executive Andrew Mazimba was in Zimbabwe to bring part of the machinery for the mining works.’
    • ‘Amicus has members in car plants, factories, chemical works, and across industry.’
    • ‘There, hugely expanding under various names and ownerships, it produced gas until the works closed in 1955.’
    • ‘Thihicarm armories have their works here, the best in a dozen kingdoms.’
    • ‘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 Victorian homes are built on the site of a former brick and tile 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.’
    • ‘I look around me at work and I see where my colleagues go: the coffee room, the vending machine, the works canteen.’
    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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Once the works are removed, the gears will be visible as shown below.’
    • ‘It is not necessary to remove the L bracket from 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.’
    mechanism, machinery, workings, working parts, parts, movement, action
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  • 6Military
    usually works[count noun] A defensive structure:

    ‘just north of the fort were trenches and the freshly reconstructed patriot siege works’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On the left bank of the river, the works lie north of the present city of Samarra, which is a walled city.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘So lifting a flea a small distance is more work than holding a heavy weight stationary.’
    • ‘The walker's muscles must do this amount of work, to replace the lost kinetic energy, in every step.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 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 result; do work:

    ‘an engineer who was working on a design for a more efficient wing’
    ‘new contracts forcing employees to work longer hours’
    • ‘Chudleigh added that principals were working longer hours under tremendous pressure.’
    • ‘He wasn't working on the case, but was familiar with the gang Aaron worked for.’
    • ‘My dad works during the day, but when he's home he's usually working on his car or playing ball with my brothers.’
    • ‘To do so is grossly unfair to the students who work so hard to achieve those results.’
    • ‘How was it like to come from working on your own to working with three other people on a project that was already established?’
    • ‘The work ethic culture has resulted in men working longer hours than in any other European country.’
    • ‘The employees were given notes revealing how many hours they had worked at Jordan's.’
    • ‘Was working on it very different from working with the whole band?’
    • ‘She worked hard all her life, rearing her family and working on the farm.’
    • ‘California says overtime starts any day an hourly employee works over eight hours in a day.’
    • ‘He claimed that if a certain large deal he was working on came off, he would never have to work again.’
    • ‘Despite my physical and mental exhaustion, the three of us worked well together and we had a good time.’
    • ‘I would like to offer my congratulations to all those pupils and staff who have worked hard towards achieving this great set of results.’
    • ‘This is the least amount of money that an employer may pay an employee per hour worked.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He worked and enjoyed different things than going out and working on the tennis.’
    • ‘We have been working on it but maybe we are working with players who are slow to pick up on it.’
    • ‘We are now working on a one delivery a day basis, with mail being extremely busy and personnel working under immense pressure.’
    • ‘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.’
    toil, labour, exert oneself, plod away
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    1. 1.1 Be employed in a specified occupation or field:
      ‘he worked as a waiter in a rather shabby restaurant’
      • ‘He had previously worked as a business and town planner for Boots in Nottingham, where he still lives.’
      • ‘He worked as a ranger employed by the council at the Flitch Way Country Park, which runs from Bishop's Stortford to Braintree.’
      • ‘Before that, he had worked as a volunteer in youth clubs, while employed as a printing and advertising manager.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She also worked as a careers consultant at Shenfield High for 16 years.’
      • ‘He worked as a bookkeeper at various other businesses in Steinbach until his retirement at age 70.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Geoff also worked as the occupational medical officer at the then Phillips television factory in Dunfermline.’
      • ‘Tralee native June Hewitt has worked as a professional artist from her home studio for a number of years.’
      • ‘For years Paul had worked in the hospitality business working mainly in bars that had loud music.’
      • ‘Ann worked as a field sales co-ordinator, organising a sales force operating throughout the country.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Before becoming an MSP, Martin worked as a researcher and was employed to take minutes of the party's cabinet meetings.’
      • ‘I worked as a cardex clerk for one company and was employed at a car hire company.’
      • ‘He has worked as a professional actor and singer in the West End but increasingly he is drawn to directing.’
      • ‘In Blagoevgrad, Smith worked as a small business development volunteer.’
      • ‘He took courses in the field, then worked as a nightclub bouncer and a bodyguard.’
      • ‘Many worked as farmers in fields owned by the lords and their lives were controlled by the farming year.’
      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. 1.2[with object] Set to or keep at work:
      ‘Jane is working you too 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!’
      • ‘Claudio Bozzini, the club's goalkeeping coach, works his three charges hard.’
      • ‘Yes, we worked you too hard in the last case, Mr Besanko, we would like to hear first from the respondent.’
      • ‘The rich, throat-catching smell of hard worked packhorses hit me even as I drew in a sharp gasp of amazement.’
      • ‘His wife, who is a very smart and capable campaigner in her own right, has also worked the press very hard.’
      • ‘He works you really hard and demands that things are done right.’
      • ‘The smallest petrol version proved a willing performer and very refined, even when being worked hard.’
      • ‘Hopefully, we know him now and we know we can work him harder and that he is able for it.’
      • ‘We have got a great goalkeeping coach called Seamus McDonagh who works you hard and is very encouraging.’
      • ‘Kat thinks that Chrissie's working her too hard, and persuades her to give Little Mo the time off.’
      • ‘The fitness coaches worked us hard in pre-season, and they are still working us hard.’
      • ‘It only took four days to fit it all together but she worked me hard.’
      • ‘He was demanding as a director, but I wouldn't agree that he worked you too hard.’
      • ‘Stefano works Claudio hard, but provides digs in his house and introduces him to the world of drag racing.’
      • ‘They worked me so hard I can't remember my 20s, apart from the fact I broke out in rashes.’
      • ‘Duck legs have fairly tough meat - the legs are worked hard during their lifespan, making the flesh taut and muscly.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3[with object] Practise one's occupation in or at (a particular place):
      ‘I worked a few clubs and so forth’
      • ‘By 1841 the old Carleton Hall estate was worked by three farmers, possibly tenants of Lane Fox estates.’
      • ‘Most of the prostitutes working the streets have a drug problem, and fund their habit by prostitution.’
      • ‘Men were busy working on architecture or training in the army while young ladies worked the market place.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Nobody that has ever worked the killing room will ever tell you that you will catch every one, no matter how hard you try.’
      • ‘His father owned and worked a small farm of some fifty acres in County Derry in Northern Ireland.’
      • ‘Lynda has now come off the drugs and the drink - and she has turned her back on working the streets.’
      • ‘One of six children, his father worked a small farm and laboured for the county council to make ends meet.’
      • ‘Beats the hell out of stripping or working the streets like some whore doesn't it?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She may be a prostitute working the streets of Leith but she still has standards.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Moore Valley farmer said he has six sons and one daughter, but Pat the eldest son works the farm with him.’
      • ‘Once a farm was farmed by many men/women and their families, but nowadays farms are often worked by one person.’
    4. 1.4West Indian [with object] Be engaged in (a particular occupation):
      ‘I worked fireman on ships’
  • 2(of a machine or system) function, especially properly or effectively:

    ‘his phone doesn't work unless he goes to a high point’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He has literally kept some of our offices and machines working by duct tape and force of will alone.’
    • ‘Walhi's lawyers, however, said the early warning system had not worked properly.’
    • ‘When CIS was updating its website, it organised dummy runs to ensure that its systems were working properly.’
    • ‘The best thing was that the AccuVote machine worked the way it was supposed to work.’
    • ‘Make sure that whomever you buy from is willing to work with you until the system is working properly.’
    • ‘Although it is of the same size as an old sewing machine, it still works fine.’
    • ‘Fires were started, however, none caught as the sprinkler system worked effectively.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A warning device must be installed to alert you if the system stops working properly.’
    • ‘I'm told the in-car Global Satellite Positioning system is not working properly.’
    • ‘So many of our institutions and systems are not working properly, including the judiciary.’
    • ‘His first machine did not work so he took it to England and with help got it working.’
    • ‘I want to make sure the court system is working properly and is going to do correct justice.’
    • ‘We call them mistakes because the machine isn't working the way we think it should.’
    • ‘It's an example of litigation which needn't have happened had the system worked properly.’
    • ‘Hans had promised him that the machine would work this time and now was the time to prove it.’
    • ‘It could be necessary after a virus attack to roll back to a time when the system worked properly.’
    • ‘But even at the highest levels there is a tacit acknowledgment that the system is not working properly.’
    function, go, run, operate, perform
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (with reference to a machine or machine part) be or cause to be in operation:
      [no object] ‘the device is designed to go into a special ‘rest’ state when it's not working’
      [with object] ‘teaching customers how to work a VCR’
      • ‘Dad worked these trains regularly and for many years they were his regular assignment.’
      • ‘As the machine worked, Raven straightened, allowing herself a moment to rub the ache in her side.’
      • ‘He looked back at the counter where a blonde haired girl was busy working the machines.’
      • ‘He talked to her as the machines worked, repairing the damage that his blast had wreaked.’
      • ‘The travel back was one filled with only the sound of the heater blowing and the engine working.’
      • ‘Women snigger at men for being unable to work a washing machine, men snigger at women for being bad drivers.’
      • ‘She sees an Asian woman having difficulty working the machine and helps her to understand it.’
      • ‘A machine working two shifts costs much less by the hour than that same machine working a single shift.’
      • ‘Before the advent of the computer I worked a manual Comptometer machine, the keys of which had to be pounded.’
      • ‘The machine worked all hours - if it did not break down - and it needed few people to keep it running.’
      • ‘As we are a school, it is insane having a lab where 4-6 machines are not working at one time.’
      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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jacquelyn stood in awe that her plan actually worked and as a result she could barely move.’
    • ‘Of course, this method works best when the kids hear a title they really do enjoy.’
    • ‘Fortunately, their plan worked - but not without huge barriers along the way.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's annoying me more than anyone that my plan isn't working, believe me.’
    • ‘It is a propaganda unit designed to sell the message that this Government's strategic plan is working.’
    • ‘Indeed for most of the first half the Down tactical plan had worked marvellously.’
    • ‘Jack's plan is working - to prove she's useless and then she won't be a threat.’
    • ‘If you can't decide which method works best for you, experiment with one each day.’
    • ‘The company was restructured five times in five years; no plan worked better than the last one.’
    • ‘This method works only with insurance plans that use coinsurance, where patients pay a portion of their bills until they reach a maximum.’
    • ‘This method works if the water reservoir in the top 5 feet of soil is at or near field capacity at planting time.’
    • ‘I assume the method works better if it is used after serious sleep deprivation.’
    • ‘We had a great time stalking redfish in two feet of water with fly or spinning rod, both methods worked for us.’
    • ‘In both cases the game plan worked, and McClaren admitted that the result was a huge relief.’
    • ‘If the CCTV pilot plan works, the scheme, already hugely successful on local buses, could be extended to other taxis.’
    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. 3.1[with object] Produce as a result:
      ‘with a dash of blusher here and there, you can work miracles’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And God wrought special miracles by the hand of Paul’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If ever a country provided its team with all the motivation they needed to work miracles, then this is surely it.’
      • ‘Not that they didn't work the odd miracle at the odd club, but for years the glories they traded on were well past.’
      • ‘Check out these before and after photos to see how cheaply and easily miracles can be worked.’
      • ‘The miracle has been wrought by recognising health as a human right - and therefore the responsibility of the state - and acting accordingly.’
      • ‘He was pretending, she should have known that getting his attention was like working a miracle.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sometimes a word of truth works the miracle, but, at times, years of preaching will do nothing.’
      • ‘The ground staff worked miracles at Collegiate to make the pitch playable, albeit for a game reduced to 36 overs.’
      • ‘However, having protested defeat by the venison, Vix worked her usual miracle and found room for a pudding.’
      • ‘A balanced diet together with a gentle daily or weekly exercise regime can work miracles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It can't be stated enough how everyone should thank them both - they have worked a miracle.’
      • ‘If you could work that kind of miracle, you could go into medicine and make a mint.’
      • ‘Anyway, lame puns aside, the cast of Hollyoaks have worked a miracle.’
      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:
      ‘an organization working for a better life for people with mental illness’
      • ‘But just because they are in Canada does not mean they have stopped working for the Burmese people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Legendre, an unemployed father of three, occupies all his free time working for the revolution.’
      • ‘By adding borrowed money to your own funds you can increase the total amount of money working for you.’
      • ‘He was in the forefront for a number of these issues, working for the poor and the needy and homeless.’
      • ‘That we are truly working for the common good - a good which really delivers the well-being and the flourishing of us all.’
      • ‘The deans and chancellors of these institutions are committed to working for change.’
    3. 3.3informal [with object] Arrange or contrive:
      ‘the chairman was prepared to work it for Phillip if he was interested’
      • ‘His editor, Clive Barnaby, wanted someone on the job who was prepared to work the local angles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That inactivity puts a greater premium on working a deal with unrestricted free agent James Dexter, its projected starter at left guard.’
    4. 3.4work on/upon Exert influence or persuasion on:
      ‘she worked upon the sympathy of her associates’
      • ‘At this late stage, the elites found themselves forced to work upon the increasingly dysfunctional myths.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some occult influence was at work upon me throughout those dark hours, I am positively certain.’
      • ‘Even now we are working on Mr Flintoff being a guest upon his return from Down Under.’
      persuade, manipulate, influence, sway, put pressure on, lean on
      coax, cajole, wheedle, soften up
      twist someone's arm, put the squeeze on
      View synonyms
    5. 3.5[with object] Use one's persuasive power to stir the emotions of:
      ‘the born politician's art of working a crowd’
      • ‘Our bit was well received and Gilz did an excellent job of working the crowd.’
      • ‘The man knows how to work the crowd, but the smiley banter between songs keeps it from looking too cynical.’
      • ‘Christine Caughey and Richard Simpson turned up to have a peek at our meeting and our working the crowd.’
      • ‘In between speakers, the chairman, introduced only as Jack, works the crowd like an old hand.’
      • ‘Not only did he play a good match, at just 18 years of age he was working the crowd like a pro!’
      • ‘Justin is a fantastic front man who definitely knows how to work a crowd.’
      • ‘Another person who could be seen working the crowd was director Jayaraj.’
      • ‘You don't get to have a decent career in music without knowing how to work a crowd.’
      • ‘He knows how to work a crowd, he gives a good sermon and produces a splendid pulpit sweat.’
      • ‘Still, one had to marvel again at the man's enthusiasm for working a crowd, even someone else's.’
      • ‘He worked the crowd brilliantly, and was to keep everyone laughing through what proved a long night.’
      • ‘His concerns were for war and peace, grand speeches, red carpets and working the crowds.’
      • ‘He hopped about energetically, did the trademark Edwin moves, played congas and really worked the crowd.’
      • ‘Just before battle commenced, some of the warriors worked the crowd to get them in the mood.’
      • ‘He is brilliant when he works the crowd with his radio mike.’
      • ‘Clad in gladrags and working the crowds Al Gore made a democratic appearance.’
      • ‘He's working the crowd, but it's more like he wants to than he has to.’
      • ‘Big ups also go to Leon Wadham and his beautiful cardie, who worked the crowd like a seasoned professional.’
      • ‘It lasted around five hours, with a number of musicians and speakers working a crowd, made up of all ethnic backgrounds.’
      • ‘The Beastie Boys worked the crowd into a frenzy when they ran off to a smaller stage at the venue's opposite end.’
  • 4[with object and adverbial or complement] Bring (a material or mixture) to a desired shape or consistency by hammering, kneading, etc.:

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

    [with object and adverbial or complement] ‘comb hair from tip to root, working out the knots at the end’
    [no object, with adverbial or complement] ‘look for small parts that might work 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.’
    • ‘Our advice is to secure it very firmly, be conservative with your speed and make frequent stops to ensure it isn't working loose.’
    manoeuvre, manipulate, negotiate, guide, edge
    manoeuvre, make, thread, wind, weave
    View synonyms
    1. 5.1[no object] (of a person's features) move violently or convulsively:
      ‘hair wild, mouth working furiously’
      • ‘Her mouth was working silently, trying to form words but unable to receive any from her brain.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Rena was gaping like a fish, her mouth working furiously but she didn't emit a single word.’
      • ‘Her mouth worked furiously trying to come up some excuse for her outburst.’
      • ‘Tothas stared at him, mouth working with fear for his mistress, then nodded sharply.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His watery eyes blink at me and his mouth works without speech.’
      • ‘The muscles in his jaw were working furiously as he clenched and unclenched his fingers.’
      twitch, quiver, twist, move spasmodically, convulse
      View synonyms
    2. 5.2Sailing [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.’
  • 6[with object] Bring into a specified emotional state:

    ‘Harold had worked himself into a minor rage’
    • ‘Everybody's working themselves into a lather over one mad cow, and it's bloody ridiculous.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I agree with Mr. Jenkins, I think you can work yourself into a state of real paranoia here if you're not careful.’
    • ‘Finally I had worked myself into a state of hysterics so much so that I could not breathe.’
    • ‘Kenneth inwardly winced, but she said nothing, just fluttered about, working herself into a proper fury until Jeremy left.’
    excite, drive, move, spur, rouse, fire, galvanize
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • all work and no play (makes jack a dull boy)

    • proverb Continuous work without rest or relaxation is harmful to one's personal life and well-being:

      ‘in addition to firm information, we have a little game because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’
      • ‘Being in shape doesn't have to be all work and no play.’
      • ‘Though you agree that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the industrious and methodical part of you will do justice to your work.’
      • ‘The summer won't be all work and no play, however, with almost half of students intending to go travelling at some point.’
      • ‘It won't be all work and no play at the show.’
      • ‘All work and no play, poor nutrition, no exercise, and few relationships can have severe negative consequences in the long run.’
  • at work

    • In action:

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

    • 1informal Tell someone everything.

    • 2informal Treat someone harshly or violently.

      • ‘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.’
  • have one's work cut out

    • Be faced with a hard or lengthy task:

      ‘Shaw had his work cut out keeping fires at bay in London’
      • ‘Richards will have her work cut out to convince clients the cuts were needed and stop a further damaging exodus.’
      • ‘In the absence of global Australian education brand names, our universities - and our other non-traditional providers - have their work cut out.’
      • ‘Study hard Anna, you have your work cut out for you!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘You have your work cut out for you,’ she said, and began to clear the table.’
      • ‘Julia is a hard act to follow and I will have my work cut out.’
  • in the works

    • Being planned, worked on, or produced:

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

    • Exert more time or energy on (a task) than is necessary:

      ‘the team made hard work of beating the Giants’
      • ‘She is making hard work of it in her government.’
      • ‘He admitted afterwards that he made hard work of his victory.’
      • ‘They made hard work of reaching this stage of the competition.’
      • ‘His side made hard work of grinding down their industrious opponents.’
      • ‘The Frenchman made hard work of it until the third set.’
  • out of work

    • Unemployed:

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

    • Begin or cause to begin work:

      ‘the owners set to work itemizing what was wrong’
      • ‘So the necessary equipment was bought and M Gaget was set to work.’
      • ‘Now that they are on holiday, give them a torch and set them to work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ferretti liked what he saw, signed them up and set them to work immediately on their next collection.’
      • ‘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.’
  • a spanner in the works

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

      ‘even the weakest parties can throw a spanner in the works of the negotiations’
      • ‘The convention dictates that there must be a spanner in the works of an otherwise successful relationship, and Kissing Jessica Stein is no different.’
      • ‘The plan goes smoothly, but femme fatale Sherry throws a spanner in the works by getting her henchmen to kill everybody.’
      • ‘So we could all do without any last-minute hitches that could throw a spanner in the works just when we think everything is about to be signed and sealed.’
      • ‘Some nimble move by AMD or even IBM could throw another monkey wrench in the works.’
      • ‘Someone is trying to throw a spanner in the works but we won't allow them to disrupt the rebuilding job we are doing here.’
      hinder, hamper, obstruct, disrupt, impede, inhibit, retard, baulk, thwart, foil, curb, delay, set back, slow down, hold back, hold up
      restrict, restrain, constrain, block, check, curtail, frustrate, cramp, bridle, handicap, cripple, hamstring, shackle, fetter, encumber
      stymie
      bork, put a monkey wrench in the works of, throw a monkey wrench in the works of
      cumber, trammel
      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 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.’
      • ‘There are moments in history when the work of years can be accomplished in weeks.’
      • ‘It was the work of but moments to drag the whistling warrior back across the clearing.’
      • ‘The murder of this family, five in number, was the work of a moment, not one of them awoke.’
      • ‘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.’
  • work one's ass (or butt) off

    • vulgar slang Work extremely hard.

      toil, labour, exert oneself, plod away
      View synonyms
  • work one's fingers to the bone

    • Work very hard:

      ‘Auntie can work her fingers to the bone, but it's Miss Green that gets the thanks’
      • ‘His mom, who is kind and good and true, works her fingers to the bone, running the inn.’
      • ‘I've worked my fingers to the bone, cleaning, organizing and even releasing to the trash bin things I no longer need.’
      • ‘It was just the 5th movement that had lately been keeping her up all night, working her fingers to the bone.’
      • ‘There are people working their fingers to the bone every day for less than this proposed salary.’
      • ‘She makes her grandson Shiro work his fingers to the bone to keep this place in top shape, and then tricks the neighborhood kids into doing the rest.’
      • ‘We are working our fingers to the bone to try and rescue our comrades, but at the moment we have yet to locate where their screams were coming from.’
      • ‘I work my fingers to the bone, and get precious little gratitude for it, and all you can do is treat me like some glorified gofer who's wet behind the ears?’
      • ‘The man she had hated so was the man she worked her fingers to the bone to save.’
      • ‘‘We lived in a tiny little flat, and had no money, and my mother had to work her fingers to the bone,’ Carol says.’
      • ‘In India, some kids are forced to toil in cotton fields while others work their fingers to the bone weaving silk.’
      work hard, labour, work one's fingers to the bone, work like a trojan, work like a dog, work day and night, exert oneself, keep at it, keep one's nose to the grindstone, grind away, slave away, grub away, plough away, plod away
      View synonyms
  • work to rule

    • 1Follow official working rules and hours exactly in order to reduce output and efficiency, especially as a form of industrial action.

      • ‘We may even consider working to rule and start taking lunchbreaks, which we never do in order to get the round finished.’
      • ‘Workers in the planning department who are not on strike are working to rule.’
      • ‘The union has confirmed that all members are working to rule and that a strike will take place on February 6.’
      • ‘There's talk of the police working to rule and having protest marches against overtime cuts and stuff.’
      • ‘The options include working to rule, an overtime ban and days on which fares will not be collected.’
      • ‘More bad news this week as public school teachers across Bermuda began working to rule in protest at another last minute Ministry decision.’
      1. 1.1An instance or period of working to rule:
        ‘management urged cabin crew to call off their work-to-rule’
        • ‘The campaign has mainly revolved around working to rule.’
        • ‘They have launched a strict work to rule to put the pressure on management.’
        • ‘Even the police have, on occasion, not been averse to a spot of work to rule.’
        • ‘In a bid to keep up pressure on their employers, the workers were due to stage a work to rule this week.’
        • ‘Last Monday the refuse collectors announced a work to rule.’
        • ‘Last week representatives of the 360 pilots who have been working to rule decided to escalate the action.’
        • ‘Workers in the planning department who are not on strike are working to rule.’
        • ‘Must show solidarity, join the union, march for better conditions, withdraw participation in voluntary activities, work to rule.’
        • ‘By withdrawing their labour or even working to rule they may be able to deprive the public of a key service.’
        • ‘One of the servers here is on a work to rule.’
  • work one's way up

    • Progress towards something better or ascend a series of ranks through hard work:

      ‘she worked her way up to become a vice president’
      • ‘He worked his way up from being employed as a trainee to a manager's position.’
      • ‘I started by working in the summer, cleaning tools and sweeping floors, before working my way up to a supervisor's position.’
      • ‘There were some sharp people I worked with in restaurant and retail jobs, but they were in school, or worked their way up the management chain quickly.’
      • ‘We are having to start up the club from the bottom and work our way up.’
      • ‘She worked her way up in the family company from tea-girl, to sales desk, to sales director, and then to managing director.’
  • work one's passage

    • Work in return for a free place on a voyage:

      ‘he worked his passage home as a steward’
      • ‘The story moved the skipper and he allowed her to work her passage over’
      • ‘Can I work my passage on a ship between NZ and Oz?’
      • ‘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 way through university (or college, etc.)

    • Obtain the money for educational fees or maintenance as a student by working.

      • ‘Many excelled in school, married, worked their way through college, raised children, joined the army, and became farmers, bankers, and politicians.’
      • ‘Most students in the US work their way through college.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are used to students working their way through college and graduates starting work with big loans to repay.’
      • ‘A larger group consists of overseas students working their way through college.’
  • work one's will on/upon

    • Accomplish one's purpose on:

      ‘she set a coiffeur to work his will on her hair’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At least I can still work my will on the minds of others.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Women who work the streets represent only 10-15% of all prostitutes in the US.’
      • ‘There are now about 400 prostitutes working the streets.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Lynda has now come off the drugs and the drink - and she has turned her back on working the streets.’
      • ‘The committee said as many as 300 child prostitutes work the streets of Regina.’
      • ‘I've been working the streets for around ten months now.’
      • ‘The teenager abandoned plans to go to university and now works the streets in Sheffield's red-light area to pay for her addiction.’
  • work wonders

Phrasal Verbs

  • work back

    • Work overtime:

      ‘our admin woman works back every night’
      • ‘They have increased the entitlement for reimbursement of additional childcare costs when parents are required to work back or are called away with little warning.’
      • ‘It's 6pm, and you're working back late.’
      • ‘I thought about working back another week but my doctor won't let me, as she knows I need to switch off.’
      • ‘Workers this week voted overwhelmingly to reject the agreement that would have forced them to start work as early as 7am and work back to 9pm.’
      • ‘"I have to work back late most days, but it allows me to do something I really enjoy," she says.’
      • ‘Some argue for a cap on working hours, which would make it illegal for bosses to allow their employees to work back late.’
      • ‘Some men "work back" so as to avoid the witching hours between 5pm and 8pm.’
      • ‘Even though the day was draining, I worked back late to avoid extra stress next week.’
      • ‘I was working back a bit one night when the phone rang.’
      • ‘They don't say that they're going off somewhere and their underlings often cover for them and work back late.’
  • work something in

    • Try to include something, typically in a text or speech.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’?’
      • ‘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.’
  • work something off

    • 1Discharge a debt by working:

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

      ‘one of those gimmicks for working off aggression’
      • ‘Kevin paced the area of the cave grunting, trying to work off his anger.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’’
      • ‘As it worked out, these results seemed to reflect the mood of America.’
      • ‘Everywhere I have been, people think I always have the answers because everything always works out.’
      • ‘But we've been in bad situations before, and everything has always worked out.’
      • ‘I'm still praying for you, and I hope everything works out for the greater good!’
      end up, turn out, go, come out, develop, evolve, result
      succeed, be successful, work, turn out well, go as planned, get results, be effective
      View synonyms
    • 3Engage in vigorous physical exercise:

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

    • Understand someone's character.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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:

      ‘she worked out sums on her way to school’
      • ‘Precise mathematical calculations are worked out and this determines how a person's life is affected.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      calculate, compute, reckon up, determine
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Find the answer to something:
        ‘I couldn't work out whether it was a band playing or a record’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Panych doesn't give us a pat answer, so it's up to the company to work it out.’
        • ‘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
        View synonyms
    • 2Plan 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      devise, formulate, draw up, put together, develop, prepare, construct, arrange, organize, plan, think up, contrive, concoct
      View synonyms
    • 3Accomplish something with difficulty:

      ‘malicious fates are bent on working out an ill intent’
      succeed, be successful, work, work out, turn out well, go as planned, have the desired result, get results, be efficacious
      succeed, be successful, work out, turn out well, go as planned, have the desired result, get results
      View synonyms
    • 4Work a mine until it is exhausted of minerals.

      • ‘This became Europe's most important source of gold until the deposits were worked out by the 1760s.’
      • ‘Cornish production supplied most of the needs of Britain and Europe until the mid-19th cent. when many mines were worked out.’
  • work someone over

    • Beat someone severely:

      ‘the coppers had worked him over a little just for the fun of it’
      • ‘Back in the ring Adam is working Dave over something terrible.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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
      do over, bash up, rough up, beat the living daylights out of
      duff up
      beat up on
      View synonyms
  • work to

    • Follow or operate within the constraints of (a schedule or system):

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

    • Proceed gradually towards (something more advanced or intense):

      ‘the course starts with landing technique, working up to jumps from an enclosed platform’
      • ‘Gradually work up to 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground flaxseeds daily to avoid bloating and gas.’
      • ‘Do as many wall push-ups as you can, gradually working up to 10 repetitions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘Music makes us swoon, yearn, weep, laugh, gets us all lovey-dovey or can work us up into an aggressive, martial frenzy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You psyche yourself up for the operation, go without food the night before and don't get much sleep because you are worked up.’
  • work something up

    • 1Bring something gradually to a more complete or satisfactory state:

      ‘painters were accustomed to working up compositions from drawings’
      • ‘He works his paintings up from informative sketches.’
      • ‘The first is where you have some wax and you work it up and bring some things in.’
    • 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
      develop, produce
      View synonyms

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

/wəːk/