Definition of waterwork 

1 : something (as a tank, dock, canal lock, levee, or seawall) built in, for, or as a protection against water

2 : a mechanism, contrivance, or set of equipment for handling water: such as

a : an ornamental or spectacular display of water mechanically produced : fountain, cascade usually used in plural

b(1) obsolete : a mechanical contrivance for raising and distributing water

(2) waterworks plural : the whole system of resevoirs, 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

(1) : the channels by which sap or other vital fluid is handled in the living body the complex waterworks of a tree

(2) slang : kidneys

3 waterworks plural : tears or the shedding of tears

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First Known Use of waterwork

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for waterwork

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

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

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a state of commotion or excitement

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