work: Meaning and Definition of


Pronunciation: (wûrk), [key]
— n., adj., v., worked wrought working.
  1. exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
  2. something on which exertion or labor is expended; a task or undertaking: The students finished their work in class.
  3. productive or operative activity.
  4. employment, as in some form of industry, esp. as a means of earning one's livelihood: to look for work.
  5. one's place of employment: Don't phone him at work.
  6. materials, things, etc., on which one is working or is to work.
  7. the result of exertion, labor, or activity; a deed or performance.
  8. a product of exertion, labor, or activity: musical works.
  9. an engineering structure, as a building or bridge.
  10. a building, wall, trench, or the like, constructed or made as a means of fortification.
  11. ironworks.
    1. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) a place or establishment for manufacturing (often used in combination):ironworks.
    2. the working parts of a machine:the works of a watch.
    3. Theol.righteous deeds.
  12. force times the distance through which it acts; specifically, the transference of energy equal to the product of the component of a force that acts in the direction of the motion of the point of application of the force and the distance through which the point of application moves.
  13. He's at work on a new novel.
    1. working, as at one's job:He's at work on a new novel.
    2. in action or operation:to see the machines at work.
  14. to spoil something, as through blundering or stupidity: The surprise party was all arranged, but her little brother gummed up the works and told her.
  15. in preparation or being planned: A musical version of the book is in the works.
  16. to finish or dispose of quickly: We made short work of the chocolate layer cake.
  17. unemployed; jobless: Many people in the area were out of work.
  18. to spend all one's resources: Let's shoot the works and order the crêpes suzette.
  19. a hamburger with the works.
    1. everything; all related items or matters:a hamburger with the works.
    2. harsh or cruel treatment:to give someone the works.
  1. of, for, or concerning work: work clothes.
  2. working (def. 18).
  1. to do work; labor.
  2. to be employed, esp. as a means of earning one's livelihood: He hasn't worked for six weeks.
  3. to be in operation, as a machine.
  4. to act or operate effectively: The pump will not work. The plan works.
  5. to attain a specified condition, as by repeated movement: The nails worked loose.
  6. to have an effect or influence, as on a person or on the mind or feelings of a person.
  7. to move in agitation, as the features under strong emotion.
  8. to make way with effort or under stress: The ship works to windward.
  9. to give slightly at the joints, as a vessel under strain at sea.
  10. to move improperly, as from defective fitting of parts or from wear.
  11. to undergo treatment by labor in a given way: This dough works slowly.
  12. to ferment, as a liquid.
  1. to use or manage (an apparatus, contrivance, etc.): She can work many business machines.
  2. to bring about (any result) by or as by work or effort: to work a change.
  3. to manipulate or treat by labor: to work butter.
  4. to put into effective operation.
  5. to operate (a mine, farm, etc.) for productive purposes: to work a coal mine.
  6. to carry on operations in (a district or region).
  7. to make, fashion, or execute by work.
  8. to achieve or win by work or effort: to work one's passage.
  9. to keep (a person, a horse, etc.) at work: She works her employees hard.
  10. to influence or persuade, esp. insidiously: to work other people to one's will.
  11. to exploit (someone or something) to one's advantage:He worked his charm in landing a new job. See if you can work your uncle for a new car.
  12. to make or decorate by needlework or embroidery: She worked a needlepoint cushion.
  13. to cause fermentation in.
  14. The tailor worked in the patch skillfully. Work the cream into the hands until it is completely absorbed.
    1. to bring or put in; add, merge, or blend:The tailor worked in the patch skillfully. Work the cream into the hands until it is completely absorbed.
    2. to arrange a time or employment for:The dentist was very busy, but said she would be able to work me in late in the afternoon. They worked him into the new operation.
  15. We decided to work off the effects of a heavy supper by walking for an hour.
    1. to lose or dispose of, as by exercise or labor:We decided to work off the effects of a heavy supper by walking for an hour.
    2. to pay or fulfill by working:He worked off his debt by doing odd jobs.
  16. to exercise influence on; persuade; affect: I'll work on her, and maybe she'll change her mind.
  17. The total works out to 176.
    1. to bring about by work, effort, or action.
    2. to solve, as a problem.
    3. to arrive at by or as by calculation.
    4. to pay (a debt) by working instead of paying money.
    5. to exhaust, as a mine.
    6. to issue in a result.
    7. to evolve; elaborate.
    8. to amount to (a total or specified figure); add up (to):The total works out to 176.
    9. to prove effective or successful:Their marriage just didn't work out.
    10. to practice, exercise, or train, esp. in order to become proficient in an athletic sport:The boxers are working out at the gym tonight.
  18. For my term paper I worked over 30 volumes of Roman history.
    1. to study or examine thoroughly:For my term paper I worked over 30 volumes of Roman history.
    2. beat unsparingly, esp. in order to obtain something or out of revenge:They threatened to work him over until he talked.
  19. to deal with successfully; come to terms with: to work through one's feelings of guilt.
  20. Work up some plans.
    1. to move or stir the feelings; excite.
    2. to prepare; elaborate:Work up some plans.
    3. to increase in efficiency or skill:He worked up his typing speed to 70 words a minute.
  21. rise to a higher position; advance: He worked up to the presidency.


Pronunciation: (wûrk), [key]
  1. 1832–84, U.S. songwriter.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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