clockwork

noun
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 way This 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

While Cooper himself is not usually a terrible actor, this film plays to the lowest common denominator, hitting every chef cliché like clockwork. Bethany Jean Clement, The Seattle Times, "In honor of the Oscars, we asked Seattle chefs to name their picks for all-time Best Food Film," 20 Feb. 2019 These wildfires rage across thousands of acres and devastate entire ecosystems like clockwork (kind of the opposite of those people in Patagonia). Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Annual 'Suffocations' Are the Forest Fires of the Ocean," 30 Oct. 2018 Legs pumping with each clockwork stroke of the oars. David Wharton, latimes.com, "Orange Coast crew takes on sport's royalty at Henley regatta in England," 28 June 2018 At sundown, the lightkeeper would light the oil lamp inside the first-order Fresnal lens, which would then be rotated by a brass clockwork mechanism, sending a beam of more than 1,000 prisms out to the sea. USA TODAY, "14 must-visit lighthouses around the USA," 13 June 2018 The breakthrough was the Harrington clockwork drill from 1864. Roslyn Sulcas, New York Times, "This Exhibition Has Real Bite," 7 June 2018 It’s executed by cooks working just a few feet away, with clockwork timing and impeccable hospitality. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio’s Top 9 restaurants," 4 June 2018 In this vision, the self is a clockwork mechanism, ideally adapted by natural selection to its circumstances and needing upkeep only in the form of juice cleanses, meditation, CrossFit, and so on. Gabriel Winant, The New Republic, "Barbara Ehrenreich’s radical critique of wellness and self-improvement," 23 May 2018 Atlanta rarely plays by the rules of the clockwork plot, where everything fits into an exact place and half the fun is in seeing how all the pieces mesh. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Atlanta’s bold brilliance is rooted in a surprising nod to TV history," 11 May 2018

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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Last Updated

23 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for clockwork

The first known use of clockwork was in 1628

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More Definitions for clockwork

clockwork

noun

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

clockwork

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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