Meaning of WORK in English

I. ˈwərk, ˈwə̄k, ˈwəik noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English werk, work, from Old English werc, weorc, worc; akin to Old High German werc, werah work, Old Norse verk, Greek ergon work, erdein, rhezein to do, make sacrifice, Avestan vərəzyeiti he works

1. : activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform:

a. : sustained physical or mental effort valued as it overcomes obstacles and achieves an objective or result

the hours of busiest work and closest application — W.C.Brownell

— contrasted with play

b. : the labor, task, or duty that affords one his accustomed means of livelihood

six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work — Exod 20:9 (Authorized Version)

the work of a permanent secretary is worth £3,000 a year — Virginia Woolf

c. : strenuous activity marked by the presence of difficulty and exertion and absence of pleasure

sculling against a swift current is work — Richard Jefferies

d. : occasional or temporary activity toward a desired end : chore

the work of putting up storm windows

e. : a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity

the handler's work is to put the goods on the siding but not to load the car


a. : energy expended by natural phenomena

these boulder deposits are the work of glaciers

b. : the result of such energy

sand dunes are the work of sea and wind

c. : the transference of energy that is produced by the motion of the point of application of a force (as when a compressed spring in a toy gun by its expansion and loss of potential energy gives kinetic energy to a bullet or when the falling weight of a pile driver drives in a pile) and is measured by multiplying the force and the displacement of its point of application in the line of action — see erg , joule , kilogram-meter


a. : something that results from a particular manner or method of working, operating, or devising

tracked down by careful police work

sonata with intricate passage work for the right hand

telecast was notable for the flexibility of the camera work — Irene Kuhn

b. : something that results from the use or fashioning of a particular material

silver work of earlier artists

fine porcelain work in many styles

or employment of a particular technique

boxes adorned with elaborate filigree work

c. : needlework , fancywork


a. : a fortified structure (as a fort, earthen barricade, trench)

b. works plural : structures in engineering (as docks, bridges, or embankments) or mining (as shafts or tunnels)

5. works plural but singular or plural in construction : a place where industrial labor is carried on : plant , factory

cement works

chemical works

start in the office rather than in the works — Roy Lewis & Angus Maude

6. works plural : the working or moving parts of a mechanism

cleaning the works of a clock


a. dialect England : disturbance , bother , to-do , trouble

b. : froth or foam caused by fermentation


a. : 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

literary, scientific, and artistic works, including writings, musical, dramatic, and cinematographic works, and paintings, engravings, and sculpture — Universal Copyright Convention

c. : the act or process of working a degree — used in Masonic and some other ritualistic orders

made the work up-to-date, brisk, with only one 45-minute degree — C.W.Ferguson

9. works plural : performance of moral or religious acts

faith by itself if it has no works, is dead — Jas 2:17 (Revised Standard Version)

salvation by works

performance of all the works prescribed by the law — E.F.Scott


a. : effective operation : effect , result

wait for time to do its healing work

loathed war and all its works — V.L.Parrington

b. : manner of working : workmanship , management , execution

better tools make for better work


a. : the material or piece of material that is operated upon at any stage in the process of manufacture

the work was put under the drop hammer and quickly pounded into shape for the next operation

b. : ore before it is dressed

12. : break 4c(6)

13. works plural

a. : everything possessed or available

I had the works, the bottom half of the menu, from grapefruit to rice pudding — Saul Bellow

builders are including complete kitchens … and buyers want the works — Kiplinger Washington Letter

the whole works, rod, reel, tackle box, went overboard

b. : subjection to drastic treatment : unsparing or ruthless handling : all possible abuse including murder — usually used with get

get the works

or give

gave him the works

14. slang : dice designed for cheating


occupation , employment , business , pursuit , calling : work is the general term with less specific connotation and wider application than others in this series; it may or may not suggest laborious, burdensome, onerous expenditure of energy

the work of a ditchdigger

a miner's work is difficult

occupation may indicate the trade, craft, vocation, or profession which one has chosen and prepared himself for and which one is apt usually to follow

allowed to choose his occupation — W.R.Inge

or whatever occupies one's time and energies, quite purposefully as a means of livelihood or less so as an avocation or interest

a generation still in the process of discovering its own identity and desperately engaged in that occupation — R.B.West

employment is likely to center attention on an employer-employee relationship and imply an agreement or contract about wages or working conditions

resumed his employment with the Smith Plumbing Company, plumbing being his occupation

or may indicate merely that at which one employs himself, without suggestions of work

their chief employment is to talk of what they once were and of what they may yet be — T.B.Macaulay

business suggests work of a commercial or mercantile nature and is likely to be limited to situations of authority unless the question of a rightful or suitable assumption of a role or function is concerned

his business is selling insurance and my work as clerk in his office is not very hard

business in situations not involving means of livelihood may be used in reference to financial transactions or to necessary and burdensome tasks but hardly to avocations

the messy business of infant feeding — New Yorker

pursuit may suggest either a vocation or an avocation followed with zeal or resolution

lost all soul or sensation, but for this one pursuit — Mary W. Shelley

the law, being a profession, was accounted a more gentlemanly pursuit than business — Edith Wharton

calling may indicate a profession or vocation to which one has been called by some inspiration or intuition

that luckiest of fairy-gifts, a calling, an industry, something that she loved to do — L.P.Smith

or may indicate the simplest craft or trade

in his shepherd's calling he was prompt — William Wordsworth


labor , toil , travail , grind , drudgery : work is a very general word usable in a variety of contexts; labor differs from work in often being limited to purposive, necessary expenditure of effort, usually of a fatiguing or onerous nature

labor is doing what we must; leisure is doing what we like — G.B.Shaw

any activity becomes work when it is directed by accomplishment of a definite material result, and it is labor only as the activities are onerous, undergone as mere means by which to secure a result — John Dewey

toil indicates fatiguing prolonged work

the labor of sifting, combining, constructing, expunging, correcting, testing: this frightful toil is as much critical as creative — T.S.Eliot

travail is likely to stress painfulness, difficulty, or struggle in work

the sentimentalist escapes the stern travail of thought — J.L.Lowes

I must admit the doubt in view of the travail that I suffered — B.N.Cardozo

grind suggests dreary monotonous repetition of burdensome or taxing work

nothing left for my mother to do but to take in student boarders. This she did until every child was out of college — a long hard grind — A.W.Long

drudgery applies to continuing dull, menial, irksome work

drudgery can be cut down. Most men have had to dig for their lives since Adam, but this is now avoidable — Francis Hackett

the act of scrupulous revision (endless pruning and trimming for the sake of a sound and flexible prose style) that provides the writer's best solace even while it makes drudgery — Ellen Glasgow

- at work

- in the works

- in work

- make short work of

- out of work

II. adjective

1. : suitable or styled for wear while working

work clothes

work shoes

2. : used for work

work elephant

III. verb

( worked -kt ; or wrought ˈrȯt, usu -ȯd.+V ; worked or wrought ; working ; works )

Etymology: Middle English worchen, worken, werken (past wroughte, wroghte, past participle wrought, wroght ), from Old English wyrcan, wircan (past worhte, past participle geworht ); akin to Old High German wurchen, wirchen to work (past worhta, past participle giworht ), Old Norse yrkja (past orti, past participle yrt, ort ), Gothic waurkian (past waurhta ), Old English weorc work — more at work I

transitive verb

1. : to bring to pass : effect

work havoc

work miracles

had meant to work her own will on the interior of the house — Arnold Bennett


a. : to fashion or create by expending labor or exertion upon : forge , shape

work flint into tools

b. : to make or decorate with needlework ; especially : embroider

the buttonholes of the dress were worked in a contrasting color

worked a floral design in wool and silk on the shawl


a. : to prepare for use by stirring or kneading

work the putty into the right consistency

b. : to bring into a desired form by a gradual process of cutting, hammering, scraping, pressing, stretching

work cold steel

4. : to set or keep in motion, operation, or activity

work cattle in a roundup

: cause to operate or produce

a pump worked by hand

work a quarry

work farmland

5. : to work out (a problem) : solve

work difficult calculations in his head


a. : to cause to toil or labor

worked his horses nearly to death

: get work out of : cause to perform

work dogs in a circus act

b. : to make use of

worked her charm and looks to get her way

: exploit

c. : to control or guide the operation of

all the yard switches are worked from a central tower

7. : to carry on an operation through or in or along

the salesman worked both sides of the street

fisherman worked the stream from the bridge down to the pool

8. : to pay for with labor or service

work out a fine

work off a debt

worked his way through college


a. : to get (oneself or an object) into or out of a condition or position by gradual stages

worked himself out of his bonds and called the police

worked himself into a position of leadership

patiently working the boulder out of the hole

swinging his arms to work the stiffness out of his shoulders

b. : contrive , arrange — used chiefly with it

we can work it so that you can take your vacation


a. archaic : to influence by acting upon : lead , induce

I have been working him to abandon her — Sir Walter Scott

b. : to practice trickery or cajolery or some devious procedure on for some end

worked the management for a free ticket

c. : excite , provoke

worked himself into a rage

11. : to work off (sense 2)

12. : to bud or graft (plants) — usually used with on

apples worked on seedling stocks are often especially vigorous

13. : to sort (mail) by place of destination

14. : to manipulate (a bait or lure) for fish with maximum effectiveness in a natural manner

15. : to go through the ceremonies of (a degree) — used in Masonic and some other ritualistic orders

intransitive verb


a. : to exert oneself physically or mentally especially in sustained effort for a purpose or under compulsion or necessity — contrasted with play

b. : to perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations

worked for hours clearing up the yard

working away at his algebra

working all day over a hot stove

working on his book for years

c. : to perform work or fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary

he works at plumbing

works in an insurance office

works for an oil company

obliged to work for a living


a. archaic : act , behave

b. obsolete : contrive , arrange

3. : to function or operate according to plan or design

the mechanism was heavy and awkward but it worked

hinges work better with oil

4. : to exert an influence or tendency

developments which work for increasing the significance of the net income figure — Journal of Accountancy

5. : to produce a desired effect or result : succeed

all things work together for good to them that love God — Rom 8:28 (Authorized Version)

— often used with out

hoped the plan would work out


a. : to make way slowly and with difficulty : move or progress laboriously or with sustained effort

worked up from office boy to president

b. : to sail to windward

7. : to permit of being worked : react in a specified way to being worked

this wood works easily


a. : to be in agitation or restless motion

the sea works high — Shakespeare

b. : ferment 1 — used especially of a liquid or yeast

c. : to move slightly in relation to another part — used of parts (as of a ship's frame or plates) normally rigidly connected

worked in a seaway … and leaked — Alan Villiers

d. : to move in an undesigned direction due to imperfect fitting

the shaft works in its bearing

e. of rock : to undergo slow moving, heaving, sinking, or sliding

f. : to get into a specified condition by slow or imperceptible movements

the knot worked loose

plug worked out of the pipe

his jacket had worked up at the back of his neck

9. : to work a degree — used in Masonic and some other ritualistic orders

Synonyms: see act

- work at

- work double tides

- work even

- work into

- work on

- work one's way

- work the oracle

- work upon

- work water

IV. transitive verb

: 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

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.