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

As a final gesture to everyone who joined in the festivities, the couple is working with Hope International to sponsor 130 orphaned children in China for an entire year. David Nash, Town & Country, "How to Throw the Ultimate Chinese New Year Celebration," 22 Feb. 2019 Designed to pass the most common building code requirements in the U.S., Avrame USA works with each client to determine local requirements and makes adjustments as needed. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Affordable A-frame house can be built by just two people," 11 Jan. 2019 Samsung, Xiaomi and others are working on foldable-screen phones, which could be simultaneously large enough to watch Netflix and small enough to fit in your hand. David Pierce, WSJ, "A $10 Accessory Proves Smartphones Are Too Big," 17 Feb. 2019 Developer Level-5 is working on an animated film set in the same universe, which is a fascinating development given Studio Ghibli helped out on the cutscenes for the original game. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Hollow Knight gets a sequel, Neill Blomkamp makes a live-action Anthem trailer," 15 Feb. 2019 About 420,000 government employees are already working without pay, and 380,000 are on unpaid leave, according to earlier reporting by the Wall Street Journal. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cardi B's Impassioned Government Shutdown Video Even Had Lawmakers Talking," 17 Jan. 2019 Young people have been working hand-in-hand with their educators on some of these efforts. Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, "Education Workers on Campuses Around the Country Are Demanding Better Labor Conditions," 10 Jan. 2019 Now On its website, the company explains how Biotulin works, crediting spilanthol, a local anaesthetic extracted from Acmella oleracea, with the product's alleged muscle-relaxing effect. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Reportedly Swears by a $64 Natural Anti-Wrinkle Gel Called Biotulin," 2 Feb. 2019 While working as an exhibitions manager at University College London, Susie Chan kept as many as eight pairs of sneakers under her desk, the result of her regular runs before work. Saumya Vaishampayan, WSJ, "Midday Workouts Are Great. Smelly Sneakers Under Your Desk, Not So Much," 1 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There's still work to be done, but that work can be done in ruffles and florals and pink. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "It's a Parade of Pink on the Oscars Red Carpet," 25 Feb. 2019 If uptown is a place to focus on work, then downtown is where the couple spend their time relaxing and exploring new neighborhoods. Alina Cho, ELLE Decor, "Uptown Glamour Goes Downtown in a Bold West Village Pad," 22 Feb. 2019 But while the etchings in tonight's episode are certainly based on real works, and more specifically the collection which recently sold at auction, the show's design team tweaked the images to more resemble the actors. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "The Scandalous Etchings of Queen Victoria that Inspired Tonight's Episode of Victoria," 18 Feb. 2019 But the selection of works, which includes a 26-foot-long festival banner made around 1800, also brings out some of the dynamics at the core of the bhakti tradition in Hinduism. Lee Lawrence, WSJ, "‘Seeing the Divine: Pahari Painting of North India’ Review: Multifaceted Devotion," 16 Feb. 2019 The stimulant laxative works quickly — within two to six hours — so don't take it right before bed. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The 5 Best Benefits of Castor Oil Are Mostly for Your Hair and Skin," 15 Feb. 2019 The protagonist, Miss Queen Royal Highness Kate Hudson, works for a magazine writing How To articles—but wants more from her work. Danny Murphy, Marie Claire, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," 15 Feb. 2019 For this work, Crick and Watson were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1962, along with Franklin’s colleague Maurice Wilkins. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Europe's Next Mars Rover Is Named After a Pioneer of DNA Research," 7 Feb. 2019 Apparently, Jen was also an avid video gamer, playing for hours on end while Sarah was at work (which would explain why Devonte told Dana DeKalb that his moms weren’t really paying attention to what was going on at home). Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 7: 'Stone-Cold Narcissist'," 22 Jan. 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

7 Mar 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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