work

verb
\ ˈwərk How to pronounce work (audio) \
worked\ ˈwərkt How to pronounce worked (audio) \ or wrought\ ˈrȯt How to pronounce wrought (audio) \; working

Definition of work

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to perform work or fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary works in publishing
b : to perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations worked all day over a hot stove
c : to exert oneself physically or mentally especially in sustained effort for a purpose or under compulsion or necessity
2 : to function or operate according to plan or design hinges work better with oil
3 : to produce a desired effect or result : succeed a plan that will work
4 : to exert an influence or tendency
5a : to make way slowly and with difficulty : move or progress laboriously worked up to the presidency
b : to sail to windward
6a : to move slightly in relation to another part
b : to get into a specified condition by slow or imperceptible movements the knot worked loose
c : to be in agitation or restless motion
7 : to permit of being worked : react in a specified way to being worked this wood works easily

transitive verb

1 : to set or keep in motion, operation, or activity : cause to operate or produce a pump worked by hand work farmland
2 : to bring to pass : effect work miracles
3 : to solve (a problem) by reasoning or calculation often used with out
4a : to cause to toil or labor worked their horses nearly to death
b : to make use of : exploit
c : to control or guide the operation of switches are worked from a central tower
5a : to carry on an operation or perform a job through, at, in, or along the peddler worked the corner a sportscaster hired to work the game
b : to greet and talk with in a friendly way in order to ingratiate oneself or achieve a purpose politicians working the crowd worked the room
6 : to pay for or achieve with labor or service worked my way through college worked my way up in the company
7a : to prepare for use by stirring or kneading
b : to bring into a desired form by a gradual process of cutting, hammering, scraping, pressing, or stretching work cold steel
8a : to fashion or create a useful or desired product by expending labor or exertion on : forge, shape work flint into tools
b : to make or decorate with needlework especially : embroider
9a : to get (oneself or an object) into or out of a condition or position by gradual stages
b : contrive, arrange we can work it so that you can take your vacation
10a : excite, provoke worked myself into a rage
b : to practice trickery or cajolery on for some end worked the management for a free ticket
work on
1 : affect worked on my sympathies
2 : to strive to influence or persuade
work upon
: to have effect upon : operate on

work

noun

Definition of work (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something:
a : activity that a person engages in regularly to earn a livelihood people looking for work
b : a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity
c : sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result
2 : one's place of employment didn't go to work today
3a : something produced or accomplished by effort, exertion, or exercise of skill this book is the work of many hands
b : something produced by the exercise of creative talent or expenditure of creative effort : artistic production an early work by a major writer
4a : something that results from a particular manner or method of working, operating, or devising careful police work clever camera work
b : something that results from the use or fashioning of a particular material porcelain work
5a works plural : structures in engineering (such as docks, bridges, or embankments) or mining (such as shafts or tunnels)
b : a fortified structure (such as a fort, earthen barricade, or trench)
6 works plural in form but singular or plural in construction : a place where industrial labor is carried on : plant, factory
7 works plural : the working or moving parts of a mechanism the works of a clock
8 works plural
a : everything possessed, available, or belonging the whole works, rod, reel, tackle box, went overboard ordered pizza with the works
b : subjection to drastic treatment : all possible abuse usually used with get or giveget the worksgave them the works
9a : the transference of energy that is produced by the motion of the point of application of a force and is measured by multiplying the force and the displacement of its point of application in the line of action
b : energy expended by natural phenomena
c : the result of such energy sand dunes are the work of sea and wind
10a : effective operation : effect, result wait for time to do its healing work
b : manner of working : workmanship, execution
11 works plural : performance of moral or religious acts salvation by works
12 : the material or piece of material that is operated upon at any stage in the process of manufacture
at work
1 : engaged in working : busy especially : engaged in one's regular occupation
2 : having effect : operating, functioning
in the works
: in process of preparation, development, or completion
in work
1 : in process of being done
2 of a horse : in training
out of work
: without regular employment : jobless

Definition of work (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : suitable or styled for wear while working work clothes
2 : used for work a work elephant
3 : involving or engaged in work a work gang work hours

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Choose the Right Synonym for work

Noun

work, labor, travail, toil, drudgery, grind mean activity involving effort or exertion. work may imply activity of body, of mind, of a machine, or of a natural force. too tired to do any work labor applies to physical or intellectual work involving great and often strenuous exertion. farmers demanding fair compensation for their labor travail is bookish for labor involving pain or suffering. years of travail were lost when the house burned toil implies prolonged and fatiguing labor. his lot would be years of back-breaking toil drudgery suggests dull and irksome labor. an editorial job with a good deal of drudgery grind implies labor exhausting to mind or body. the grind of the assembly line

work, employment, occupation, calling, pursuit, métier, business mean a specific sustained activity engaged in especially in earning one's living. work may apply to any purposeful activity whether remunerative or not. her work as a hospital volunteer employment implies work for which one has been engaged and is being paid by an employer. your employment with this firm is hereby terminated occupation implies work in which one engages regularly especially as a result of training. his occupation as a trained auto mechanic calling applies to an occupation viewed as a vocation or profession. the ministry seemed my true calling pursuit suggests a trade, profession, or avocation followed with zeal or steady interest. her family considered medicine the only proper pursuit métier implies a calling or pursuit for which one believes oneself to be especially fitted. acting was my one and only métier business suggests activity in commerce or the management of money and affairs. the business of managing a hotel

Examples of work in a Sentence

Verb I started working when I was sixteen. She works part-time at the restaurant. She has always wanted to work in advertising. She has to work two jobs to support her family. She worked through lunch to get the report done. I'm not working tomorrow—the boss gave me the day off. He works about 60 hours a week. The job requires that you work some nights and weekends. She is used to working long hours. She works the Northeast region of the state selling insurance. Noun She is trying to find work in publishing. How long have you been looking for work? He started work as a car salesman. I know him through work. She didn't come to work today. He left work a few minutes ago. She's not here right now. She's at work. She went out with her friends from work. Can you describe your work to the class? A large part of the work is responding to e-mails. Adjective What does your work schedule look like this week?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The National Park Service is continuing to work with federal, state, and local public health officials to carefully monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Megan Becka, cleveland, "National Park Service to reopen portions of First Ladies, James A. Garfield national historic sites," 26 June 2020 Mills said predictive policing could have been effective if it had been used to work with community members to solve problems — that didn’t happen. Kristi Sturgill, Los Angeles Times, "Santa Cruz becomes the first U.S. city to ban predictive policing," 26 June 2020 Without safety mandates from the federal government, farm owners and labor contractors say they are left to work closely with local health officials to protect workers. Bob Ortega, CNN, "He's considered an 'essential' worker. What he feels, though, is underpaid and at risk.," 26 June 2020 The Security Engineers Semi-Autonomous Robot, or SESAR, is made to work best with another security officer who can directly respond to any incident. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, "Birmingham security firm marketing semi-autonomous robot guards," 25 June 2020 The petition has more than 18,000 signatures, calling for the government to work with parents to create a safe solution to allow sports to resume. oregonlive, "Let Them Play group holds rally in Portland park, pushing for return of youth sports," 25 June 2020 Many landlords have sought to work with tenants on some kind of rent relief, particularly for those experiencing job loss. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Fort Worth apartment owner sues federal government to overturn coronavirus eviction moratorium," 25 June 2020 An equity and justice-oriented organization will be created to work with the council in identifying activities to increase diversity and incorporate antiracism principles, leadership and staffing. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cudahy has declared racism a public health crisis. Here's what that means.," 24 June 2020 Rawlins says that in New York, she's been able to work with nurses and doctors who have flown in from across the country to help out with the outbreak in the city. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "Maggie Rawlins Left Modeling to Return to Nursing When the COVID-19 Pandemic Hit," 24 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Instead, for every 10 job losses there will be 4.2 new hires, leaving millions of people out of work. Alexandria Burris, The Indianapolis Star, "Amid the pandemic, economists say, some job losses will be permanent," 29 June 2020 More than 50 years of work at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business has demonstrated empirically that properly structured, passively managed... WSJ, "Retirement Security and Passively Managed Funds," 28 June 2020 Before the pandemic threw millions of casual laborers out of work, one in three Egyptians was already living in poverty, according to government figures. Washington Post, "Egypt eases restrictions despite surge in virus infections," 27 June 2020 The unemployment rate has also worsened since the coronavirus pandemic began, and unofficial analysis suggests that as many as 80 million people might have been out of work this spring. Cnn Business Staff, CNN, "Can millions more street vendors save China from a jobs crisis? Beijing appears divided," 27 June 2020 After the city charged Rolfe with murder, a wave of the city's police officers called out of work. Fox News, "NYPD sees 49 percent spike in officers filing for retirement amid George Floyd unrest," 27 June 2020 Hundreds of freelance artists and technicians are already out of work. Manuel Mendoza, Dallas News, "Our lost year? The return of live theater in 2020 is a long shot," 26 June 2020 Reynolds and Shibley recognize there's a lot of work ahead of them. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football players hope to create real change through Big Ten Anti-Racism Coalition," 26 June 2020 But the future of work doesn’t mean training everyone to be tech sector workers, Jackson notes. Anne Quito, Quartz, "A new global ideas competition seeks to radically speed up the reskilling of displaced workers," 26 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective One of our primary messages right now around burnout is being intentional about the recovery and the rest and the opportunity to turn things off, shift your focus to non-work activities. Kathryn Vasel, CNN, "Google will give every employee $1,000 to WFH. Its wellness manager explains why," 4 June 2020 Alabama’s current health order prohibits non-work gatherings where people cannot maintain a 6-foot distance between themselves and those from another household. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "George Floyd protests amid coronavirus pandemic: ADPH urges use of facemasks, social distancing," 1 June 2020 Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, said in an email to the Free Press that production and processing of poultry continues and worker safety measures are in place. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Meat shortage could be coming soon as processing plants are forced to close," 14 Apr. 2020 Economist Michael Kremer has suggested that democratic redistribution within cooperatives dulls worker effort, while economist Gabriel Burdin has found evidence that more skilled and ambitious workers tend to quit co-ops. Noah Smith, Twin Cities, "Noah Smith: There’s no reason workers can’t be corporate owners," 5 Dec. 2019 Much of the technology that makes the place work lives above the store’s shelves. Matt Day, The Seattle Times, "Amazon Go cashierless convenience store opening to the public," 20 Jan. 2018

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

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for work

Verb

Middle English werken, worken, from Old English wyrcan; akin to Old English weorc

Noun

Middle English werk, work, from Old English werc, weorc; akin to Old High German werc work, Greek ergon, Avestan varəzem activity

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Learn More about work

Time Traveler for work

Time Traveler

The first known use of work was before the 12th century

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Statistics for work

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Work.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/work. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for work

work

verb
How to pronounce work (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of work

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to have a job
: to do things as part of your job
: to do work in, on, or at (an area, event, etc.)

work

noun

English Language Learners Definition of work (Entry 2 of 3)

: a job or activity that you do regularly especially in order to earn money
: the place where you do your job
: the things that you do especially as part of your job

English Language Learners Definition of work (Entry 3 of 3)

: suitable to be worn while you are working
: used for work
: of or relating to a person's job

work

noun
\ ˈwərk How to pronounce work (audio) \

Kids Definition of work

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the use of a person's physical or mental strength or ability in order to get something done or get some desired result Cleaning the playground was a lot of work.
3 : the place where someone works I left my coat at work.
4 : something that needs to be done or dealt with : task, job I have work to do.
5 : deed entry 1 sense 1, achievement The principal will honor the club for its good works.
6 : something produced by effort or hard work an author's latest work a researcher's work
7 works plural : a place where industrial labor is done : plant, factory a locomotive works
8 works plural : the working or moving parts of a mechanical device the works of a watch
9 : the way someone performs labor : workmanship The job was spoiled by careless work.
10 works plural : everything possessed, available, or belonging She ordered a hamburger with the works.

work

verb
worked or wrought\ ˈrȯt \; working

Kids Definition of work (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to do something that involves physical or mental effort especially for money or because of a need instead of for pleasure : labor or cause to labor
2 : to have a job I haven't worked in three years.
3 : to perform or act or to cause to act as planned : operate The plan worked well. How do you work this thing?
4 : to force to do something that involves physical or mental effort The coach really works the team.
5 : to move or cause to move slowly or with effort Work the liquid into a cloth. The screw worked loose.
6 : to cause to happen I can't work miracles.
7 : make entry 1 sense 1, shape The vase is beautifully wrought.
8 : to make an effort especially for a long period She worked hard to make the dinner a success.
9 : excite sense 1, provoke You're going to work yourself into a rage.
10 : to carry on an occupation in, through, or along Two agents worked the city.
work out
1 : to invent or solve by effort He had it all worked out so it wouldn't look fishy.— Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Egypt Game
2 : to go through an exercise routine

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More from Merriam-Webster on work

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for work

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with work

Spanish Central: Translation of work

Nglish: Translation of work for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of work for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about work

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