: something (as a tank, dock, canal lock, levee, or seawall) built in, for, or as a protection against water
: a mechanism, contrivance, or set of equipment for handling water: such as
: an ornamental or spectacular display of water mechanically produced : fountain, cascade
usually used in plural
obsolete : a mechanical contrivance for raising and distributing water
waterworks plural : the whole system of reservoirs, channels, mains, and pumping and purifying equipment by which a water supply is obtained and distributed to consumers
also : a pumping or purifying station of such a system
c waterworks plural
: the channels by which sap or other vital fluid is handled in the living body
the complex waterworks of a tree
slang : kidneys
waterworks plural : tears or the shedding of tears

Word History


Middle English waterwerk, from water + werk, wurk, work work

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of waterwork was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near waterwork

Cite this Entry

“Waterwork.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waterwork. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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