busy·​work | \ ˈbi-zē-ˌwərk How to pronounce busywork (audio) \

Definition of busywork

: work that usually appears productive or of intrinsic value but actually only keeps one occupied

Examples of busywork in a Sentence

Students were given busywork for the last few minutes of class.
Recent Examples on the Web The new missions are merely more of the same busywork, with a superficial layer of pressure added. Washington Post, "‘Avengers’ updates showcases the best of the studio, and the worst of the game," 19 Oct. 2020 With fewer patients coming in at the beginning of this, though, there was lot of busywork. Molly Longman, refinery29.com, "I’ve Delivered 40 Babies in The Heat Of The Coronavirus Pandemic," 29 June 2020 In one experiment, nearly 90 percent of participants who already had an 85 percent chance of winning a $5 gift card were willing to do busywork on a computer to raise their chances to 97 percent. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "Two Mental Errors That Make the Pandemic Harder to Bear," 23 Apr. 2020 Burying yourself in mindless busywork is not the solution. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Against Productivity in a Pandemic," 17 Mar. 2020 Then again, the repetitive deliveries can just as often feel like drudgery or even busywork. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Death Stranding is Kojima unleashed, and it’s as weird as you’d expect," 1 Nov. 2019 In my old job, talking myself into believing my team’s dubious pursuits were more than busywork created to justify our six-figure incomes? Mathina Calliope, Longreads, "The Backcountry Prescription Experiment," 3 Dec. 2019 Just as in Fallout, there are usually options for how to sidestep the needs of one group in favor of another, but those options generally involve aligning with an equally needy faction with its own laundry list of busywork. EW.com, "The Outer Worlds is a great RPG if you ignore its characters," 22 Oct. 2019 Ephraim is wary at first, then obedient, then angry; what does all this busywork serve, other than Thomas’s own ego? Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe dance macabre in masterful drama The Lighthouse," 17 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'busywork.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of busywork

1893, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for busywork

Time Traveler

The first known use of busywork was in 1893

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Cite this Entry

“Busywork.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/busywork. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for busywork



English Language Learners Definition of busywork

US : work that is given to you only to keep you busy

Comments on busywork

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