plural noun
wa·​ter·​works | \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌwərks How to pronounce waterworks (audio) , ˈwä-\

Definition of waterworks

1 : the system of reservoirs, channels, mains, and pumping and purifying equipment by which a water supply is obtained and distributed (as to a city)
2 : an ornamental fountain or cascade
3 : the shedding of tears : tears

Examples of waterworks in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Cue the waterworks about 45 seconds later, when Bailey is laying in his boy's lap and both of their ages really begin to show. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "The Trailer for 'A Dog's Journey' Will Make You Ugly Cry," 30 Jan. 2019 But the case of the waterworks employee calls into question the country’s efforts to address a rise in karoshi, or death from overwork. Yonette Joseph, New York Times, "He Left Work for 3 Minutes Before His Lunch Break. Now His Pay Is Docked.," 22 June 2018 Today, the reservoir anchors a sprawling waterworks that serves 2.7 million residents and businesses in more than a dozen Bay Area communities. Kurtis Alexander, SFChronicle.com, "Appeals court rejects effort to tear down Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir," 10 July 2018 The Sacramento-San Joaquin delta tunnel project is supposed to revitalize the heart of California's waterworks, ensuring that Southern California's spigots don't run dry. latimes.com, "Today: Zuck and Cover," 11 Apr. 2018 The waterworks recommended rehabilitating four of the circular brick tank structures. Chris Mayhew, Cincinnati.com, "Partial demolition planned: Mt. Airy water tanks are deteriorating," 4 June 2018 But in Jefferson Parish, no widespread failure had afflicted the waterworks since Hurricane Katrina - until January. Drew Broach, NOLA.com, "January freeze, pressure drop expose precarious nature of East Jefferson water system," 23 May 2018 Today, the lake anchors a sprawling waterworks that serves 2.7 million residents and businesses in more than a dozen Bay Area communities. Kurtis Alexander, SFChronicle.com, "The battle over Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in judges’ hands," 30 May 2018 Donathan, of course, has an Aunt Patty; cue the waterworks. Rasputin Todd, Cincinnati.com, "Who was voted off 'Survivor' this week? (May 9) Did Mason's Angela Perkins advance?," 9 May 2018

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

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of waterworks was in 1621

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English Language Learners Definition of waterworks

: a system for supplying water to a city or town that includes pipes, pumps, etc.
British, informal + humorous : the parts of the body that produce urine : the urinary system


noun plural
wa·​ter·​works | \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌwərks How to pronounce waterworks (audio) , ˈwä-\

Kids Definition of waterworks

: a system of dams, reservoirs, pumps, and pipes for supplying water (as to a city)

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Spanish Central: Translation of waterworks

Nglish: Translation of waterworks for Spanish Speakers

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