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

About a decade later, the city created an even more elaborate waterworks with a pumping facility on the banks of the Schuylkill, beneath what is now the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "Philadelphia might have been a sylvan Athens. Instead, we got Washington, our muddy Rome.," 1 Aug. 2019 Norwood turned to the waterworks and Ohio's Environmental Protection Agency early in the week to help with the poor condition of the city's water storage tanks, according to a news release from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley's office. Chris Mayhew, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati helps water keep flowing in Norwood: Repairs needed," 12 July 2019 Cue the waterworks: The Ohio House on Thursday approved House Bill 7, which would create DeWine’s proposed H2Ohio and fund it largely through borrowed money, cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock and Tobias write. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com, "Ohio Senate budget bill passes unanimously: Capitol Letter," 21 June 2019 As cities grew over time, local leadership grappled with the choice of offering private or municipal ownership of waterworks systems, and in 2018, Baltimore became the first major city to ban water privatization, according to Montag. Brittany Brown, baltimoresun.com, "New study urges Baltimore to act against rising water rates that disproportionately affect African Americans," 12 June 2019 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

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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Statistics for waterworks

Last Updated

31 Aug 2019

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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.
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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