plural noun
wa·​ter·​works | \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌwərks, 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

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 Such sudden swings between severe drought and intense storms will increase the threat to aging dams and flood-control networks, accentuate the wildfire threat and make management of the state's complex waterworks even more daunting. Benjamin Oreskes, latimes.com, "Essential California: More rent control, maybe?," 24 Apr. 2018 The laws were later expanded to include stormwater and waterworks projects. Mark Curnutte, Cincinnati.com, "Cranley vs. Seelbach: Which program puts the most people to work?," 7 Feb. 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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Time Traveler for waterworks

The first known use of waterworks was in 1621

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More Definitions for waterworks



English Language Learners Definition of waterworks

: a system for supplying water to a city or town that includes pipes, pumps, etc.

: the parts of the body that produce urine : the urinary system


noun plural
wa·​ter·​works | \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌwərks, 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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