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 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 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

Being pregnant can loosen up the muscles and connective tissues such as ligaments that need to work well for good pelvic floor function. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "What to Know About Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Your Pelvic Floor," 10 May 2019 Construction commenced, and the designers got to work. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Best Room Wins Episode Two Steps Up to the Challenge of Contemporary," 9 May 2019 What's more, with Tantour, Huda Beauty is also releasing a Sculpt & Shade Brush for $28, which is dual-ended and designed to work best with the creamy formula. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Huda Beauty’s New Tantour Makes It Way Easier to Contour and Bronze Your Face at the Same Time," 6 May 2019 After studying fashion design at Donghua University in her hometown, Ling interned at ELLE China and worked as a fashion editor at InStyle China, before moving to New York in 2010 to study fashion marketing at Parsons. Vogue, "A New York to Shanghai Designer’s Guide to Lounging Around the World," 15 Apr. 2019 The prolific American sculptor woke up at 6 every morning wearing cotton clothing that served as both her pajamas and work uniform. Belinda Lanks, WSJ, "Spring Books: Spring Cleaning," 12 Apr. 2019 The space showcases Antiguan artists who are working across many different mediums. Charlotte Chilton, Town & Country, "Coco Shop's Debut Collection Is the Only Thing You'll Need for Your Next Vacation," 9 Apr. 2019 Although the discount was unintentional, the family has reportedly chosen not to work with Jordyn anymore. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Kylie Jenner Explained Why the Jordyn Woods Lip Kit Was Discounted," 1 Apr. 2019 Unable to find a coach serious enough to work with her, she voraciously... Jen Murphy, WSJ, "She’s 89 and Can’t Stay Out of the Pool," 30 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The lucky candidate will receive $1,300 for each week they're put to work. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "This Company Wants to Pay You $1,300 a Week to Review Luxury Yachts," 9 May 2019 To me, this work is not unlike that of the abolitionists in the 1800s. Alicia Garza, Marie Claire, "Alicia Garza on How Women Are Battling Mass Incarceration," 30 Apr. 2019 With Daylight Saving Time, skiing after work is finally a viable option, but no one told the lifties. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "Why You Should Ski Uphill This Spring," 29 Apr. 2019 Though her work is a more youthful take on the art of beadwork, Paul does reference traditional motifs from her Dene heritage. Vogue, "Meet 8 Indigenous Beaders Who Are Modernizing Their Craft," 24 Apr. 2019 Until the 1970s, domestic caregiving work was what was available to black women. Jameelah Nasheed, SELF, "Strong Black Women Need Therapy, Too," 23 Apr. 2019 There's a lot to remember about the couple—and high on that list is John's work with George magazine. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "How Jackie Kennedy Helped John F. Kennedy, Jr. Start George Magazine," 10 Apr. 2019 For Rivera, a Bronx native, returning to the place that continues to inspire her work was closing a circle. Anne Branigin, Teen Vogue, "The Lit Bar Is the Bronx's New Bookstore Putting the Community First," 27 Mar. 2019 Relief work is the immediate disaster response — search and rescue, supply drops, emergency medicine. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 25 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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

Statistics for work

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for work

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on work

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with work

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on work

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