Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of work
Meaning of work by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • ( UK ) IPA: /wɜːk/
    • ( Geordie ) IPA: /wɔk/
    • ( US ) IPA: /wɝk/
    • Rhymes: -ɜː( r )k

    Etymology 1

    From Old English weorc, worc, from Proto-Germanic *werkan, from Proto-Indo-European *wérǵom ; akin to Old Frisian werk, wirk, Old Saxon, Dutch werk, German Werk, Old High German werc, werah, Icelandic & Swedish verk, Danish værk, Gothic ���������������� ( gawaúrki ), Ancient Greek ἔργον ( érgon, “work” ), from ϝέργον, Avestan verez ( to work ), Armenian գործ ( gorç, “work” ). Cognates include: bulwark, energy, erg, georgic, liturgy, metallurgy, organ, surgeon, wright .


    work ( countable and uncountable; plural: works )

    1. ( uncountable ) Labour, employment, occupation, job .
      My work involves a lot of travel .
    2. ( uncountable ) The place where one is employed .
      He hasn’t come home yet, he’s still at work .
    3. ( uncountable ) 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 .
    4. ( uncountable, often in combination ) The result of a particular manner of production .
      There's a lot of guesswork involved .
      Let's take the guess work out of it .
    5. ( uncountable, often in combination ) Something produced using the specified material or tool .
      We've got some paperwork to do before we can get started .
      With the rigors of clinical trials, there's a lot of paper work
    6. ( countable ) A literary, artistic, or intellectual production .
      It is a work of art .
    7. ( uncountable, 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 .
    8. ( uncountable, thermodynamics ) A nonthermal First Law energy in transit between one form or repository and another. Also, a means of accomplishing such transit.[1] .
    9. ( countable ) A fortification .
      William the Conqueror fortified many castles, throwing up new ramparts, bastions and all manner of works .
    10. ( uncountable, slang, professional wrestling ) The staging of events to appear as real .
    • See also Wikisaurus:work
    Derived terms

    See also

    1. ^ See http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0004055

    Etymology 2

    Old English wyrċan, cognate with Old Frisian werka, wirka, Old Saxon wirkian, Low German warken, Dutch werken, Old High German wurken ( German wirken, werken and werkeln ), Old Norse yrkja and orka, ( Swedish yrka and orka ), Gothic ���������������� .


    work ( third-person singular simple present works present participle working, simple past and past participle worked or rare wrought )

    1. ( intransitive ) To do a specific task by employing physical or mental powers .
      He’s working in a bar .
      1. Followed by in. Said of one's workplace ( building ), or one's department, or one's trade ( sphere of business ).
      2. Followed by as. Said of one's job title
      3. Followed by for. Said of a company or individual who employs.
      4. Followed by with. General use, said of either fellow employees or instruments or clients.
    2. ( transitive ) To effect by gradual degrees .
      He worked his way through the crowd .
      The dye worked its way through .
      Using some tweezers, he worked the bee sting out of his hand .
    3. ( transitive ) To embroider with thread .
    4. ( transitive ) To set into action .
      He worked the levers .
    5. ( transitive, Zymurgy ) To cause to ferment .
    6. ( transitive ) To exhaust, by working .
      the mine was worked until the last scrap of ore had been extracted .
    7. ( transitive ) To shape, form, or improve a material .
      He used pliers to work the wire into shape .
    8. ( 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 .
    9. ( transitive ) To operate in or through; as, to work the phones .
    10. ( transitive ) To provoke or excite; to influence .
      The rock musician worked the crowd of young girls into a frenzy .
    11. ( transitive ) To use or manipulate to one’s advantage .
      She knows how to work the system .
    12. ( transitive ) To cause to happen or to occur as a consequence .
      I cannot work a miracle .
    13. ( transitive ) To cause to work .
      He is working his servants hard .
    14. ( 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 .
    15. ( intransitive, figuratively ) To influence .
      They worked on her to join the group .
    16. ( intransitive ) To effect by gradual degrees; as, to work into the earth .
    17. ( intransitive ) To move in an agitated manner .
      His fingers worked with tension .
    18. ( intransitive ) To behave in a certain way when handled;
      This dough does not work easily .
      The soft metal works well .
    19. ( ditransitive ) To cause ( someone ) to feel
    20. ( obsolete, intransitive ) To hurt; to ache.
    Derived terms


Explanation of work by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. give a workout to

    2. My personal trainer works me hard
      work one's muscles
    3. arrive at a certain condition through repeated motion

    4. The stitches of the hem worked loose after she wore the skirt many times
    5. go sour or spoil

    6. The wine worked
    7. cause to undergo fermentation

    8. The vintner worked the wine in big oak vats
    9. find the solution to ( a problem or question ) or understand the meaning of

    10. Work out your problems with the boss
      this unpleasant situation isn't going to work itself out
      He could not work the math problem
    11. use or manipulate to one's advantage

    12. She knows how to work the system
      he works his parents for sympathy
    13. make uniform

    14. work the clay until it is soft
    15. perform as expected when applied

    16. This old radio doesn't work anymore
    17. move into or onto

    18. work the raisins into the dough
      the student worked a few jokes into his presentation
      work the body onto the flatbed truck
    19. cause to happen or to occur as a consequence

    20. I cannot work a miracle
    21. make something, usually for a specific function

    22. Work the metal into a sword
    23. shape, form, or improve a material

    24. work stone into tools
      work the metal
    25. prepare for crops

    26. Work the soil
    27. gratify and charm, usually in order to influence

    28. the political candidate worked the crowds
    29. move in an agitated manner

    30. His fingers worked with tension
    31. proceed along a path

    32. work one's way through the crowd
    33. provoke or excite

    34. The rock musician worked the crowd of young girls into a frenzy
    35. proceed towards a goal or along a path or through an activity

    36. 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
    37. cause to work

    38. he is working his servants hard
    39. be employed

    40. 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
    41. exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity

    42. I will work hard to improve my grades
      she worked hard for better living conditions for the poor
    43. cause to operate or function

    44. This pilot works the controls
      Can you work an electric drill?
    45. operate in or through

    46. Work the phones

    Definition of work by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Work ( wûrk ), n. [OE. work, werk, weorc, AS. weorc, worc; akin to OFries. werk, wirk, OS., D., & G. werk, OHG. werc, werah, Icel. & Sw. verk, Dan. værk, Goth. gawaúrki, Gr. ἔργον, ϝέργον, work, ῥέζειν to do, ὄργανον an instrument, ὄργια secret rites, Zend verez to work. √145. Cf. Bulwark, Energy, Erg, Georgic, Liturgy, Metallurgy, Organ, Orgy, Surgeon, Wright.]

      1. Exertion of strength or faculties; physical or intellectual effort directed to an end; industrial activity; toil; employment; sometimes, specifically, physical labor.

      Man hath his daily work of body or mind

      Appointed. Milton.

      2. The matter on which one is at work; that upon which one spends labor; material for working upon; subject of exertion; the thing occupying one; business; duty; as, “to take up one's work; to drop one's work”.

      Come on, Nerissa; I have work in hand

      That you yet know not of. Shak.

      In every work that he began . . . he did it with all his heart, and prospered. 2 Chron. xxxi. 21.

      3. That which is produced as the result of labor; anything accomplished by exertion or toil; product; performance; fabric; manufacture; in a more general sense, act, deed, service, effect, result, achievement, feat.

      To leave no rubs or blotches in the work. Shak.

      The work some praise,

      And some the architect. Milton.

      Fancy . . .

      Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams. Milton.

      The composition or dissolution of mixed bodies . . . is the chief work of elements. Sir K. Digby.

      4. Specifically: That which is produced by mental labor; a composition; a book; as, “a work, or the works, of Addison”. Flowers, figures, or the like, wrought with the needle; embroidery.

      I am glad I have found this napkin; . . .

      I'll have the work ta'en out,

      And give 't Iago. Shak.

      pl. Structures in civil, military, or naval engineering, as docks, bridges, embankments, trenches, fortifications, and the like; also, the structures and grounds of a manufacturing establishment; as, “iron works; locomotive works; gas works”. pl. The moving parts of a mechanism; as, the works of a watch.

      5. Manner of working; management; treatment; as, “unskillful work spoiled the effect”. Bp. Stillingfleet.

      6. ( Mech. ) The causing of motion against a resisting force. The amount of work is proportioned to, and is measured by, the product of the force into the amount of motion along the direction of the force. See Conservation of energy, under Conservation, Unit of work, under Unit, also Foot pound, Horse power, Poundal, and Erg.

      Energy is the capacity of doing work . . . Work is the transference of energy from one system to another. Clerk Maxwell.

      7. ( Mining ) Ore before it is dressed. Raymond.

      8. pl. ( Script. ) Performance of moral duties; righteous conduct.

      He shall reward every man according to his works. Matt. xvi. 27.

      Faith, if it hath not works, is dead. James ii. 17.

      9. ( Cricket ) Break; twist. [Cant]

      10. ( Mech. ) The causing of motion against a resisting force, measured by the product of the force into the component of the motion resolved along the direction of the force.

      Energy is the capacity of doing work. . . . Work is the transference of energy from one system to another. Clerk Maxwell.

      11. ( Mining ) Ore before it is dressed.

      Muscular work ( Physiol. ), the work done by a muscle through the power of contraction. -- To go to work, to begin laboring; to commence operations; to contrive; to manage. “I 'll go another way to work with him.” Shak. -- To set on work, to cause to begin laboring; to set to work. [Obs.] Hooker. -- To set to work, to employ; to cause to engage in any business or labor.

    2. Work ( wûrk ), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Worked ( wûrkt ), or Wrought ( rat ); p. pr. & vb. n. Working.] [AS. wyrcean ( imp. worthe, wrohte, p. p. geworht, gewroht ); akin to OFries. werka, wirka, OS. wirkian, D. werken, G. wirken, Icel. verka, yrkja, orka, Goth. waúrkjan. √145. See Work, n.]

      1. To exert one's self for a purpose; to put forth effort for the attainment of an object; to labor; to be engaged in the performance of a task, a duty, or the like.

      O thou good Kent, how shall I live and work,

      To match thy goodness? Shak.

      Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you. Ex. v. 18.

      Whether we work or play, or sleep or wake,

      Our life doth pass. Sir J. Davies.

      2. Hence, in a general sense, to operate; to act; to perform; as, “a machine works well”.

      We bend to that the working of the heart. Shak.

      3. Hence, figuratively, to be effective; to have effect or influence; to conduce.

      We know that all things work together for good to them that love God. Rom. viii. 28.

      This so wrought upon the child, that afterwards he desired to be taught. Locke.

      She marveled how she could ever have been wrought upon to marry him. Hawthorne.

      4. To carry on business; to be engaged or employed customarily; to perform the part of a laborer; to labor; to toil.

      They that work in fine flax . . . shall be confounded. Isa. xix. 9.

      5. To be in a state of severe exertion, or as if in such a state; to be tossed or agitated; to move heavily; to strain; to labor; as, “a ship works in a heavy sea”.

      Confused with working sands and rolling waves. Addison.

      6. To make one's way slowly and with difficulty; to move or penetrate laboriously; to proceed with effort; -- with a following preposition, as down, out, into, up, through, and the like; as, “scheme works out by degrees; to work into the earth”.

      Till body up to spirit work, in bounds

      Proportioned to each kind. Milton.

      7. To ferment, as a liquid.

      The working of beer when the barm is put in. Bacon.

      8. To act or operate on the stomach and bowels, as a cathartic.

      Purges . . . work best, that is, cause the blood so to do, . . . in warm weather or in a warm room. Grew.

      To work at, to be engaged in or upon; to be employed in. -- To work to windward ( Naut. ), to sail or ply against the wind; to tack to windward. Mar. Dict.

    3. Work ( wûrk ), v. t.
      1. To labor or operate upon; to give exertion and effort to; to prepare for use, or to utilize, by labor.

      He could have told them of two or three gold mines, and a silver mine, and given the reason why they forbare to work them at that time. Sir W. Raleigh.

      2. To produce or form by labor; to bring forth by exertion or toil; to accomplish; to originate; to effect; as, “to work wood or iron into a form desired, or into a utensil; to work cotton or wool into cloth.”

      Each herb he knew, that works or good or ill. Harte.

      3. To produce by slow degrees, or as if laboriously; to bring gradually into any state by action or motion. “Sidelong he works his way.” Milton.

      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. Addison.

      4. To influence by acting upon; to prevail upon; to manage; to lead. “Work your royal father to his ruin.” Philips.

      5. To form with a needle and thread or yarn; especially, to embroider; as, “to work muslin”.

      6. To set in motion or action; to direct the action of; to keep at work; to govern; to manage; as, “to work a machine”.

      Knowledge in building and working ships. Arbuthnot.

      Now, Marcus, thy virtue's the proof;

      Put forth thy utmost strength, work every nerve. Addison.

      The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,

      Where they were wont to do. Coleridge.

      7. To cause to ferment, as liquor.

      To work a passage ( Naut. ), to pay for a passage by doing work. -- To work double tides ( Naut. ), to perform the labor of three days in two; -- a phrase which alludes to a practice of working by the night tide as well as by the day. -- To work in, to insert, introduce, mingle, or interweave by labor or skill. -- To work into, to force, urge, or insinuate into; as, “to work one's self into favor or confidence”. -- To work off, to remove gradually, as by labor, or a gradual process; as, “beer works off impurities in fermenting”. -- To work out. To effect by labor and exertion. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Phil. ii. 12. To erase; to efface. [R.]

      Tears of joy for your returning spilt,

      Work out and expiate our former guilt. Dryden.

      To solve, as a problem. To exhaust, as a mine, by working. -- To work up. To raise; to excite; to stir up; as, to work up the passions to rage.

      The sun, that rolls his chariot o'er their heads,

      Works up more fire and color in their cheeks. Addison.

      To expend in any work, as materials; as, they have worked up all the stock. ( Naut. ) To make over or into something else, as yarns drawn from old rigging, made into spun yarn, foxes, sennit, and the like; also, to keep constantly at work upon needless matters, as a crew in order to punish them. R. H. Dana, Jr.