see also: Work
  • (RP) IPA: /wɜːk/
  • (Broad Geordie) IPA: [wɔːk]
  • (America) IPA: /wɝk/, [wɝk]
  • (New York) IPA: /wəik/


  1. (heading, uncountable) Employment.
    1. Labour, occupation, job.
      My work involves a lot of travel.
      • c. 1596–1598, William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene iv], page 177 ↗, column 1:
        Come on Neriſſa, I haue worke in hand / That you yet know not of; wee'll ſee our husbands / Before they thinke of vs?
      • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, 2 Chronicles 31:21 ↗:
        And in euery worke that he began […] he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
    2. The place where one is employed.
      He hasn’t come home yet; he’s still at work.
    3. One's employer.
      I want to go to the R.E.M. reunion concert but I'm not sure if my work will let me off.
  2. (heading, uncountable) Effort.
    1. Effort expended on a particular task.
      Holding a brick over your head is hard work. It takes a lot of work to write a dictionary.
    2. Sustained human effort to overcome obstacles and achieve a result.
      We know what we must do. Let's go to work.
    3. Something on which effort is expended.
      There's lots of work waiting for me at the office.
    4. (physics) A measure of energy expended in moving an object; most commonly, force times distance. No work is done if the object does not move.
      Work is done against friction to drag a bag along the ground.
    5. (physics, more generally) A measure of energy that is usefully extracted from a process.
  3. Sustained effort to achieve a goal or result, especially overcoming obstacles.
    We don't have much time. Let's get to work piling up those sandbags.
    • 1920, Mary Roberts Rinehart; Avery Hopwood, chapter I, in The Bat: A Novel from the Play (Dell Book; 241), New York, N.Y.: Dell Publishing Company, OCLC 20230794 ↗, [;view=1up;seq=5 page 01]:
      The Bat—they called him the Bat. Like a bat he chose the night hours for his work of rapine; like a bat he struck and vanished, pouncingly, noiselessly; like a bat he never showed himself to the face of the day.
  4. (heading) Product; the result of effort.
    1. (uncountable, often, in combination) The result of a particular manner of production.
      There's a lot of guesswork involved.
    2. (uncountable, often, in combination) Something produced using the specified material or tool.
      We've got some paperwork to do before we can get started. The piece was decorated with intricate filigree work.
    3. (countable) A literary, artistic, or intellectual production.
      It is a work of art.
      the poetic works of Alexander Pope
      • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene i], page 140 ↗, column 2:
        To leaue no Rubs nor Botches in the Worke:
      • 1667, John Milton, “Book 1 ↗”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗, lines 730–732:
        The haſty multitude / Admiring enter'd, and the work ſome praiſe / And ſome the Architect:
      • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314 ↗, page 0088 ↗:
        “[…] We are engaged in a great work, a treatise on our river fortifications, perhaps? But since when did army officers afford the luxury of amanuenses in this simple republic? […] ”
    4. (countable) A fortification.
      William the Conqueror fortified many castles, throwing up new ramparts, bastions and all manner of works.
  5. (uncountable, slang, professional wrestling) The staging of events to appear as real.
  6. (mining) Ore before it is dressed.
  7. (slang, plural only) The equipment needed to inject a drug (syringes, needles, swabs etc.)
    Tell me you're using clean works at least.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • Portuguese: obra
  • Russian: труд
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Verb

work (works, present participle working; past and past participle worked)

  1. (intransitive) To do a specific task by employing physical or mental powers.
    He’s working in a bar.
    1. Followed by in (or at, etc.) Said of one's workplace (building), or one's department, or one's trade (sphere of business).
      I work in a national park
      she works in the human resources department
      he mostly works in logging, but sometimes works in carpentry
    2. Followed by as. Said of one's job title
      I work as a cleaner.
    3. Followed by for. Said of a company or individual who employs.
      she works for Microsoft
      he works for the president
    4. Followed by with. General use, said of either fellow employees or instruments or clients.
      I work closely with my Canadian counterparts
      you work with computers
      she works with the homeless people from the suburbs
  2. (transitive) To effect by gradual degrees.
    he worked his way through the crowd
    the dye worked its way through
    using some tweezers, she worked the bee sting out of her hand
    • 1712, Joseph Addison, Cato, a Tragedy
      So the pure, limpid stream, when foul with stains / Of rushing torrents and descending rains, / Works itself clear, and as it runs, refines, / Till by degrees the floating mirror shines.
  3. (transitive) To embroider with thread.
  4. (transitive) To set into action.
    He worked the levers.
  5. (transitive) To cause to ferment.
  6. (intransitive) To ferment.
    • 1612, Francis Bacon, Essay on Natural History
      the working of beer when the barm is put in
  7. (transitive) To exhaust, by working.
    The mine was worked until the last scrap of ore had been extracted.
    • 1774, Edward Long, The History of Jamaica. Or, General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of that Island, volume 2, chapter 11, gbooks xr0NAAAAQAAJ:
      They were told of a ſilver mine, that had been worked by the Spaniards, ſomewhere in the Healthſhire Hills, in St. Catharine; but they were not able to diſcover it.
  8. (transitive) To shape, form, or improve a material.
    He used pliers to work the wire into shape.
  9. (transitive) To operate in a certain place, area, or speciality.
    she works the night clubs
    the salesman works the Midwest
    this artist works mostly in acrylics
  10. (transitive) To operate in or through; as, to work the phones.
  11. (transitive) To provoke or excite; to influence.
    The rock musician worked the crowd of young girls into a frenzy.
  12. (transitive) To use or manipulate to one’s advantage.
    She knows how to work the system.
  13. (transitive) To cause to happen or to occur as a consequence.
    I cannot work a miracle.
  14. (transitive) To cause to work.
    He is working his servants hard.
  15. (intransitive) To function correctly; to act as intended; to achieve the goal designed for.
    he pointed at the car and asked, "Does it work"?;  he looked at the bottle of pain pills, wondering if they would work;  my plan didn’t work
  16. (intransitive, figuratively) To influence.
    They worked on her to join the group.
  17. (intransitive) To effect by gradual degrees; as, to work into the earth.
  18. (intransitive) To move in an agitated manner.
    His fingers worked with tension.
    A ship works in a heavy sea.
    • 1705, Joseph Addison, Remarks on several parts of Italy, &c., in the years 1701, 1702, 1703
      confused with working sands and rolling waves
  19. (intransitive) To behave in a certain way when handled
    this dough does not work easily;  the soft metal works well
  20. (transitive, with two objects, poetic) To cause (someone) to feel (something); to do unto somebody (something, whether good or bad).
    • 1885, Richard F. Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night:
      And indeed I blamed myself and sore repented me of having taken compassion on him and continued in this condition, suffering fatigue not to be described, till I said to myself, "I wrought him a weal and he requited me with my ill; by Allah, never more will I do any man a service so long as I live!"
    • 1909, Robert W[illiam] Service, “The Ballad of One-eyed Mike”, in Ballads of a Cheechako, Toronto, Ont.: William Briggs, OCLC 2068144 ↗, stanza 12, pages 54–55 ↗:
      So sad it seemed, and its cheek-bones gleamed, and its fingers flicked the shore; / And it lapped and lay in a weary way, and its hands met to implore; / That I gently said: "Poor, restless dead, I would never work you woe; / Though the wrong you rue you can ne'er undo, I forgave you long ago."
  21. (obsolete, intransitive) To hurt; to ache.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, Book XXI:
      ‘I wolde hit were so,’ seyde the Kynge, ‘but I may nat stonde, my hede worchys so—’
Translations Translations
  • Russian: пробира́ться
Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • Russian: выраба́тывать
Translations Translations
  • French: opérer
  • Russian: рабо́тать
  • Russian: вызыва́ть
  • Russian: испо́льзовать
Translations Translations Translations
  • Russian: влия́ть
Translations Translations
  • French: se travailler
  • Russian: рабо́тать

Proper noun
  1. Surname

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