Work - definition, pronunciation, transcription

Amer.  |wɜːrk|  American pronunciation of the word work
Brit.  |wɜːk|  British pronunciation of the word work


- activity directed toward making or doing something
she checked several points needing further work
- a product produced or accomplished through the effort or activity or agency of a person or thing
it is not regarded as one of his more memorable works
the symphony was hailed as an ingenious work
he was indebted to the pioneering work of John Dewey
the work of an active imagination
erosion is the work of wind or water over time
- the occupation for which you are paid (syn: employment)
a lot of people are out of work
- applying the mind to learning and understanding a subject (especially by reading) (syn: study)
mastering a second language requires a lot of work
- (physics) a manifestation of energy; the transfer of energy from one physical system to another expressed as the product of a force and the distance through which it moves a body in the direction of that force
work equals force times distance
- a place where work is done (syn: workplace)
he arrived at work early today
- the total output of a writer or artist (or a substantial part of it) (syn: oeuvre)
Picasso's work can be divided into periods


- exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity
I will work hard to improve my grades
she worked hard for better living conditions for the poor
- be employed
Is your husband working again?
My wife never worked
Do you want to work after the age of 60?
She never did any work because she inherited a lot of money
She works as a waitress to put herself through college
- have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected (syn: act)
The voting process doesn't work as well as people thought
How does your idea work in practice?
This method doesn't work
The medicine works only if you take it with a lot of water
- perform as expected when applied (syn: function, go, operate, run)
This old radio doesn't work anymore
- shape, form, or improve a material (syn: process, work on)
work stone into tools
work the metal
- give a workout to (syn: exercise, work out)
My personal trainer works me hard
work one's muscles
- proceed along a path (syn: make)
work one's way through the crowd
- operate in a certain place, area, or specialty
She works the night clubs
The salesman works the Midwest
This artist works mostly in acrylics
- proceed towards a goal or along a path or through an activity
work your way through every problem or task
She was working on her second martini when the guests arrived
Start from the bottom and work towards the top
- move in an agitated manner
His fingers worked with tension
- cause to happen or to occur as a consequence (syn: bring, play, wreak)
I cannot work a miracle
- cause to work
he is working his servants hard
- prepare for crops (syn: crop, cultivate)
- behave in a certain way when handled
This dough does not work easily
The soft metal works well
- have and exert influence or effect (syn: influence)
The artist's work influenced the young painter
She worked on her friends to support the political candidate
- operate in or through
- cause to operate or function
This pilot works the controls
Can you work an electric drill?
- provoke or excite
The rock musician worked the crowd of young girls into a frenzy
- gratify and charm, usually in order to influence
the political candidate worked the crowds
- make something, usually for a specific function (syn: forge, form, mold, mould, shape)
- move into or onto
work the raisins into the dough
the student worked a few jokes into his presentation
work the body onto the flatbed truck
- make uniform (syn: knead)
work the clay until it is soft
- use or manipulate to one's advantage (syn: exploit)
She knows how to work the system
he works his parents for sympathy
- find the solution to (a problem or question) or understand the meaning of (syn: figure out, lick, puzzle out, solve, work out)
this unpleasant situation isn't going to work itself out
He could not work the math problem
- cause to undergo fermentation (syn: ferment)
The vintner worked the wine in big oak vats
- go sour or spoil (syn: ferment, sour, turn)
The wine worked
- arrive at a certain condition through repeated motion
The stitches of the hem worked loose after she wore the skirt many times

Extra examples

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.

What does your work schedule look like this week?

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.

Phrasal verbs

work in  — add by mixing or blending on or attaching
work off  — cause to go away through effort or work
work on  — to exert effort in order to do, make, or perform something
work out  — come up with
work over  — give a beating to; subject to a beating, either as a punishment or as an act of aggression
work through  — apply thoroughly; think through
work up  — form or accumulate steadily

Word forms

I/you/we/they: work
he/she/it: works
present participle: working
past tense: worked
past participle: worked
singular: work
plural: works
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