n. & v.
1 the application of mental or physical effort to a purpose; the use of energy.
2 a a task to be undertaken. b the materials for this. c (prec. by the; foll. by of) a task occupying (no more than) a specified time (the work of a moment).
3 a thing done or made by work; the result of an action; an achievement; a thing made.
4 a person's employment or occupation etc., esp. as a means of earning income (looked for work; is out of work).
5 a a literary or musical composition. b (in pl.) all such by an author or composer etc.
6 actions or experiences of a specified kind (good work!; this is thirsty work).
7 a (in comb.) things or parts made of a specified material or with specified tools etc. (ironwork; needlework). b archaic needlework.
8 (in pl.) the operative part of a clock or machine.
9 Physics the exertion of force overcoming resistance or producing molecular change (convert heat into work).
10 (in pl.) colloq. all that is available; everything needed.
11 (in pl.) operations of building or repair (road works).
12 (in pl.; often treated as sing.) a place where manufacture is carried on.
13 (usu. in pl.) Theol. a meritorious act.
14 (usu. in pl. or in comb.) a defensive structure (earthworks).
15 (in comb.) a ornamentation of a specified kind (poker-work). b articles having this.
—v. (past and past part. worked or (esp. as adj.) wrought)
1 intr. (often foll. by at, on) do work; be engaged in bodily or mental activity.
2 intr. a be employed in certain work (works in industry; works as a secretary). b (foll. by with) be the workmate of (a person).
3 intr. (often foll. by for) make efforts; conduct a campaign (works for peace).
4 intr. (foll. by in) be a craftsman (in a material).
5 intr. operate or function, esp. effectively (how does this machine work?; your idea will not work).
6 intr. (of a part of a machine) run, revolve; go through regular motions.
7 tr. carry on, manage, or control (cannot work the machine).
8 tr. a put or keep in operation or at work; cause to toil (this mine is no longer worked; works the staff very hard). b cultivate (land).
9 tr. bring about; produce as a result (worked miracles).
10 tr. knead, hammer; bring to a desired shape or consistency.
11 tr. do, or make by, needlework etc.
12 tr. & intr. (cause to) progress or penetrate, or make (one's way), gradually or with difficulty in a specified way (worked our way through the crowd; worked the peg into the hole).
13 intr. (foll. by loose etc.) gradually become (loose etc.) by constant movement.
14 tr. artificially excite (worked themselves into a rage).
15 tr. solve (a sum) by mathematics.
16 tr. a purchase with one's labour instead of money (work one's passage). b obtain by labour the money for (one's way through university etc.).
17 intr. (foll. by on, upon) have influence.
18 intr. be in motion or agitated; cause agitation, ferment (his features worked violently; the yeast began to work).
19 intr. Naut. sail against the wind.
Phrases and idioms:
at work in action or engaged in work. give a person the works
1 colloq. give or tell a person everything.
2 colloq. treat a person harshly.
3 sl. kill a person. have one's work cut out be faced with a hard task. set to work begin or cause to begin operations. work away (or on) continue to work. work-basket (or -bag etc.) a basket or bag etc. containing sewing materials. work camp a camp at which community work is done esp. by young volunteers. work one's fingers to the bone see BONE. work in find a place for. work it colloq. bring it about; achieve a desired result. work of art a fine picture, poem, or building etc. work off get rid of by work or activity.
work out
1 solve (a sum) or find out (an amount) by calculation.
2 (foll. by at) be calculated (the total works out at 230).
3 give a definite result (this sum will not work out).
4 have a specified result (the plan worked out well).
5 provide for the details of (has worked out a scheme).
6 accomplish or attain with difficulty (work out one's salvation).
7 exhaust with work (the mine is worked out).
8 engage in physical exercise or training.
work over
1 examine thoroughly.
2 colloq. treat with violence. works council esp. Brit. a group of employees representing those employed in a works etc. in discussions with their employers. work-shy disinclined to work. works of supererogation see SUPEREROGATION. work study a system of assessing methods of working so as to achieve the maximum output and efficiency. work table a table for working at, esp. with a sewing-machine. work to rule (esp. as a form of industrial action) follow official working rules exactly in order to reduce output and efficiency. work-to-rule the act or an instance of working to rule.
work up
1 bring gradually to an efficient state.
2 (foll. by to) advance gradually to a climax.
3 elaborate or excite by degrees.
4 mingle (ingredients) into a whole.
5 learn (a subject) by study. work one's will (foll. by on, upon) archaic accomplish one's purpose on (a person or thing). work wonders see WONDER.
workless adj.
Etymology: OE weorc etc. f. Gmc

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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