work

verb
\ ˈwərk How to pronounce work (audio) \
worked\ ˈwərkt How to pronounce work (audio) \ or wrought\ ˈrȯt How to pronounce work (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 give get 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

work

adjective

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 crew 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 Many talent evaluators still have questions about his ability to work through progressions at an efficient pace. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, 5 June 2021 At the end of the 2002-03 NBA season, Scottie Pippen tried to work behind the scenes to get a small ownership stake in the Trail Blazers. John Canzano, oregonlive, 5 June 2021 Attorney James Glasgow said that detectives, who continued to work the case through the years, stayed in touch with the girl’s family. NBC News, 5 June 2021 Many wealthy and middle class Latino and Black families had adults who were able to work from home during the pandemic. Washington Post, 5 June 2021 The Klamath Basin’s water problems can be solved, even as the climate changes, with compromise, innovation, money, and a willingness to work through the bitterness. Emma Marris, The Atlantic, 5 June 2021 The Wisconsin Treasurer, Sarah Godlewski has promised to work to create jobs, help small businesses, combat climate change, raise the minimum wage and lower the cost of prescription drugs. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 June 2021 As the pandemic rolled around the globe and countries experienced varying degrees of shelter-in-place and lock-down orders, businesses responded by sending their knowledge workers home to work. Jeffrey Ton, Forbes, 4 June 2021 And all three are looking forward to their future: Brown plans to work at a dealership and one day open an auto shop. Mj Slaby, The Indianapolis Star, 4 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Twice thought to be extinct, the black-footed ferret has returned, in fits and starts, to its native prairie grasslands in Arizona and other parts of North America through the work of people like Harris and her staff. Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic, 7 June 2021 Led by Steven Barger, a professor in the College of Medicine's Department of Geriatrics, the project will look at the work of glucose transporter cells in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, according to a Thursday announcement. Kat Stromquist, Arkansas Online, 6 June 2021 This simple but touching piece is the work of Andrew Spear and should be easily visible to motorists and pedestrians in the Mills 50 District. Patrick Connolly, orlandosentinel.com, 6 June 2021 The latest work on eruption forecasting goes far beyond these historical catalogs. Robin George Andrews, Wired, 6 June 2021 Moreover, members of the current administration contend that Mr. Trump’s decision to freeze a portion of the aid to the region in 2019 ended up blunting the impact of the work being done to improve conditions there. New York Times, 6 June 2021 While all five lanes have been resurfaced, state officials say there will be intermittent lane closures while the final work is completed. al, 6 June 2021 The real work begins once the missions are complete and a fresh trove of data is available for analysis — a task that Gilmore’s undergraduate and graduate students will be able to assist on. Eliza Fawcett, courant.com, 6 June 2021 Garcia recalled the work that Martinez did on the Spirit of Frida awards to honor female business and political leaders who exemplify the spirit of artist Frida Kahlo. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 5 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Through the spring and summer months, Pinel traveled constantly for the resurfacing company, spending post-work nights chewing the fat with fellow bowling nerds. Brendan I. Koerner, Wired, 27 May 2021 Checking in with how employees have been doing (32%), starting meetings with non-work questions (28%), and acknowledging stress and burnout (26%) were other successful methods of helping teams feel increased unity. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 16 May 2021 Seeing the individual in a non-work setting is helpful to acquiring a better understanding of the whole person. John Baldoni, Forbes, 7 May 2021 In fact, farmers were told explicitly to keep non-work life outside of the factory. Eoin O'carroll, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Mar. 2021 One franchise that gamers gravitated toward during post-work bonding sessions was Jackbox, a series of party games designed for multiple players. Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2021 Our social culture revolves around the pub: birthday drinks, post-work bevs, Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons. Raven Smith, Vogue, 14 Apr. 2021 Where the mothership had to very gradually immerse itself in the idea of doing more than alluding to non-work stories, SVU jumped in with both feet. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 31 Mar. 2021 GitLab has evolved lots of techniques to keep its disparate workforce engaged with one another, such as creating always-on videoconferencing rooms, and setting up chat channels to discuss non-work topics like sports and families. Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Mar. 2021

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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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

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Work.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/work. Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for work

work

verb

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

work

adjective

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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