clock·​work | \ ˈkläk-ˌwərk How to pronounce clockwork (audio) \

Definition of clockwork

1 : the inner workings of something
2 : 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)
3 : 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 wayThis type of star has a wonderful property: Its brightness waxes and wanes like clockwork— Ron CowenIf 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 Every year like clockwork, Valentine's Day rolls around and holiday jewel tones are swiftly replaced by every shade of red and pink imaginable. Storefronts — both of the brick-and-mortar and online varieties — catch the lovebug, and boom! Karina Hoshikawa,, "Love Yourself This Valentine’s Day With These Sex Toy Sales," 31 Jan. 2020 Over six seasons, viewers followed the ups and downs of the aristocratic Crawley family and the staff of cooks, butlers, footmen and maids who made the 192-s English estate run like clockwork in the 1920s. Julie Washington,, "Royal visit adds pomp to ‘Downton Abbey’ the movie: Review," 17 Sep. 2019 Like clockwork, the Academy rides into the year on a tide of self-gratification, and, with a few exceptions, the results are unlovely. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Fossilized 2020 Oscar Nominations," 13 Jan. 2020 From the Zurich airport, hop aboard the clockwork-efficient Swiss railway system for the hour-long ride to Lucerne. Malavika Bhattacharya, National Geographic, "Visit this historic Swiss city beneath the ‘dragon mountain’," 5 Oct. 2019 Like clockwork, the internet had some thoughts on Spot's new gig as a police dog. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "The Boston Dynamics Robot Dog Has Joined a Bomb Squad," 26 Nov. 2019 Every four years, like clockwork, one of the most important figures in an off-year Boston municipal election is nowhere to be found on the ballot., "That would be the mayor.," 6 Nov. 2019 Diarrhea every morning like clockwork, dizzy, panic attacks. Julie Mazziotta,, "Tiffany ‘New York’ Pollard Questions the Safety of Her Breast Implants: ‘I’ve Been Getting Sick’," 4 Nov. 2019 Like clockwork, most Hallmark movies include someone — typically the main character — finding the magic of Christmas again. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Hallmark's 'Holiday Hearts' Shows Ashley Williams and Paul Campbell Rekindling an Old Romance," 22 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clockwork.' 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 clockwork

1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for clockwork

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The first known use of clockwork was in 1628

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Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clockwork.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce clockwork (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clockwork

: the system of moving wheels inside something (such as a clock or an old-fashioned toy) that makes its parts move
used to describe something that happens or works in a very regular and exact way often used before another noun


clock·​work | \ ˈkläk-ˌwərk How to pronounce clockwork (audio) \

Kids Definition of clockwork

: machinery that makes the parts of a device move
like clockwork
: in a very regular or exact way He stops in every day like clockwork.

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More from Merriam-Webster on clockwork

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with clockwork

Spanish Central: Translation of clockwork

Nglish: Translation of clockwork for Spanish Speakers

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