plural noun

wa·​ter·​works ˈwȯ-tər-ˌwərks How to pronounce waterworks (audio)
: the system of reservoirs, channels, mains, and pumping and purifying equipment by which a water supply is obtained and distributed (as to a city)
: an ornamental fountain or cascade
: the shedding of tears : tears

Examples of waterworks in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web As the waterworks continued, a trio of teenage boys approached us with bottles of water, concern etched across their faces. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, 26 Mar. 2024 There will be mirrors, and doubling, and tears, because hiring Julianne Moore to play a woman on the verge and not having this extraordinary screen crier turn on the waterworks is practically akin to a war crime. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 29 Nov. 2023 So, on your next long-haul flight, be sure to stick on a reliable tear-jerker and embrace the waterworks. Olivia Morelli, Condé Nast Traveler, 8 Mar. 2024 Women’s tears act to reduce aggression in men who are close enough to catch a whiff of the waterworks, according to findings published in PLOS Biology and confirmed through human behavioral studies, brain imaging and molecular biology. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, 21 Dec. 2023 Kate teases a secret throughout the show, building suspense about the scarring childhood experience that permanently clogged her waterworks. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 24 Jan. 2024 The waterworks came when Devin felt guilt for taking Nick across the world from his family. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 13 Nov. 2023 Gates was then told he would be inducted to the team's Hall of Fame, and that's when the waterworks came. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 17 Aug. 2023 Liev Schreiber!), but special shoutout for Mahershala Ali's Uncle Aaron, who brings on the waterworks every single time with a performance that even through limited scenes and only voiceover, feels so human and warm. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 6 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'waterworks.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of waterworks was in 1621

Dictionary Entries Near waterworks

Cite this Entry

“Waterworks.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waterworks. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural noun
wa·​ter·​works ˈwȯt-ər-ˌwərks How to pronounce waterworks (audio)
: a system of reservoirs, pumps, and pipes for supplying water (as to a city)

More from Merriam-Webster on waterworks

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