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

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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And for me as a leader, my contribution to that will be to work on that in a transparent way across the industry and involving the farmers and communities. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 12 May 2022 The date night package offers couples the opportunity to work on a 24-by-36 canvas together. Charles Infosino, The Enquirer, 11 May 2022 Bodyweight reverse fly: This exercise targets the muscles in the upper back and helps work on the arms and chest. Ebony Williams, ajc, 11 May 2022 An average of 46% of U.S. office workers went to work on Wednesdays in March, said Kastle Systems, a security firm that monitors access-card swipes. Peter Grant, WSJ, 11 May 2022 The chipmaker’s financial filings indicate none of its 120,000 employees worldwide are union members, though unionized contractors work on its campuses in Oregon and elsewhere. oregonlive, 11 May 2022 The best lesson a business mentor ever gave me was to work on the business rather than in the business. Rolling Stone Culture Council, Rolling Stone, 10 May 2022 After the ordinance is introduced on Tuesday, a public hearing on the item would not be held until the following meeting on May 24, unless the members postpone it to do further work on the ordinance. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 10 May 2022 The other set of groups led by the progressive Ohio Organizing Collaborative said the court should fine the commission $10,000 a day and order it to meet daily to work on a new map plan, providing weekly status updates. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, 10 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although bioengineers have created machines that can temporarily take over the work of the heart, the lungs and even the kidneys, there is no device or procedure that can fill in for the liver. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 13 May 2022 Still, the work to uncover the truth and create a path for healing will rely on having financial resources in Indian Country, which the federal government has chronically underfunded. Felicia Fonseca, Anchorage Daily News, 13 May 2022 Still, the work to uncover the truth and create a path for healing will rely on having financial resources in Indian Country, which the federal government has chronically underfunded. Felicia Fonseca, ajc, 13 May 2022 In an interview Fennell, who retired from the district in 2020, said the deal was approved by the Office of the Attorney General, which provides legal work for the district and the district Board of Directors. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 May 2022 This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to identify solutions to Utah’s biggest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab. Saige Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 2022 Donatello began work on the cathedral as a 20-year-old. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 This work reflects what would happen to most rechargeable batteries, such as lithium-ion, nickel-metal-hydride, or lead-acid, for example. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 13 May 2022 Walk or drive through Gloucester and Rockport to enjoy the work of local artists. Globe Correspondent, BostonGlobe.com, 13 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective With social media star Tess Masazza as his guide, Tucci raised a glass to the Milanese mainstay of the post-work drink. CNN, 21 Mar. 2021 The company agreed to allow organizing in non-work areas of its facilities and send notices informing workers of their rights. Caitlin Harrington, Wired, 17 Mar. 2022 Either format gives workers an extra free day to deal with non-work issues, either weekly or every other week. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Feb. 2022 By that time, Jocinda has moved up the chain at NASA, whereas Brian is divorced (from his non-work wife) and on the verge of being evicted. Peter Debruge, Variety, 3 Feb. 2022 Recently, the forum has battled criticisms that its anti-work narrative and 1.7 million followers are fueling the U.S.'s labor shortage. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, 27 Jan. 2022 Atoboy is filled with a young crowd, half Korean and half not, who have made reservations weeks in advance, and their post-work chatter creates a pleasant din. Monica Kim, Vogue, 5 Jan. 2022 Table was a favorite post-work hangout for Forkish during the bakery’s first decade, has taken over the pizzeria. Michael Russell, oregonlive, 6 Jan. 2022 As evidence, take a quick survey of your non-work inbox; what is your daily ratio of personal emails to social/transactional/promotional ones? Christian Monberg, Forbes, 4 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near work

wore

work

workable

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Statistics for work

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Work.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/work. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for work

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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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