clock·​work ˈkläk-ˌwərk How to pronounce clockwork (audio)
: the inner workings of something
: the machinery (such as springs and a train of gears) that run a clock
also : a similar mechanism running a mechanical device (such as a toy)
: the precision, regularity, or absence of variation associated with a clock or clockwork
a clockwork operation
used in the phrase like clockwork to describe something that happens or works in a regular and exact way
This type of star has a wonderful property: Its brightness waxes and wanes like clockworkRon Cowen
If everything went like clockwork, it would have taken a year to get items in stores.Brooks Barnes

Examples of clockwork in a Sentence

the clockwork inside a mechanical toy soldier
Recent Examples on the Web Sure enough, like clockwork, 12 hours later, the symptoms manifested. TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 Like clockwork, our first singing male arrived on the first day of spring to fill the morning air with his enthusiastic and hopeful song. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Mar. 2024 Twice a year, every year, the ritual returns as literal clockwork: the start and end of daylight saving time. Diba Mohtasham, NPR, 8 Mar. 2024 The Saros Cycle This is the Saros Cycle, a regular pattern of repeating moon shadows that fall on Earth’s surface like clockwork. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 Then, like clockwork, the birds opened their animatronic beaks and spoke. Jenna Thompson, Kansas City Star, 25 Mar. 2024 The synthetic rubber of the outfield warning track crumbles beneath your shoes and every 10 seconds or so, the crack of the bat goes off like clockwork. Jason Mastrodonato, The Mercury News, 24 Mar. 2024 So when the craving for vinegary rice and raw fish comes around like clockwork, the spendy devil on my shoulder trying to convince me to order takeout, supermarket sushi is my ever-reliable angel on the other. Li Goldstein, Bon Appétit, 23 Mar. 2024 Like clockwork, Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) appear in grocery stores and flower shops in the spring. Derek Carwood, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clockwork.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of clockwork was in 1628

Dictionary Entries Near clockwork

Cite this Entry

“Clockwork.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


clock·​work ˈkläk-ˌwərk How to pronounce clockwork (audio)
: machinery (as in a mechanical toy) containing a set of small cogwheels

More from Merriam-Webster on clockwork

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