Definition of


  1. (noun, act) activity directed toward making or doing something
  2. (noun, act) the occupation for which you are paid
    a lot of people are out of work
  3. (noun, artifact) the total output of a writer or artist (or a substantial part of it)
    Picasso's work can be divided into periods
  4. (noun, artifact) a product produced or accomplished through the effort or activity or agency of a person or thing
    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
  5. (noun, artifact) a place where work is done
  6. (noun, cognition) applying the mind to learning and understanding a subject (especially by reading)
    no schools offer graduate study in interior design
  7. (noun, phenomenon) (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
  8. (verb, body) give a workout to
    My personal trainer works me hard
    work one's muscles
    this puzzle will exercise your mind
  9. (verb, change) arrive at a certain condition through repeated motion
  10. (verb, change) go sour or spoil
    The wine worked
    The cream has turned--we have to throw it out
  11. (verb, change) cause to undergo fermentation
    The vintner worked the wine in big oak vats
  12. (verb, cognition) find the solution to (a problem or question) or understand the meaning of
    Work out your problems with the boss
    this unpleasant situation isn't going to work itself out
    did you get it?
    Did you get my meaning?
    He could not work the math problem
  13. (verb, consumption) use or manipulate to one's advantage
    She knows how to work the system
    he works his parents for sympathy
  14. (verb, contact) make uniform
    work the clay until it is soft
  15. (verb, contact) perform as expected when applied
    Does this old car still run well?
    This old radio doesn't work anymore
  16. (verb, contact) move into or onto
    the student worked a few jokes into his presentation
    work the body onto the flatbed truck
  17. (verb, creation) cause to happen or to occur as a consequence
    wreak havoc
    bring comments
    play a joke
    The rain brought relief to the drought-stricken area
  18. (verb, creation) make something, usually for a specific function
    Form cylinders from the dough
    shape a figure
    Work the metal into a sword
  19. (verb, creation) shape, form, or improve a material
    process iron
    work the metal
  20. (verb, creation) prepare for crops
    cultivate the land
  21. (verb, emotion) gratify and charm, usually in order to influence
  22. (verb, motion) move in an agitated manner
  23. (verb, motion) proceed along a path
    make one's way into the forest
  24. (verb, perception) provoke or excite
  25. (verb, social) proceed towards a goal or along a path or through an activity
    She was working on her second martini when the guests arrived
    Start from the bottom and work towards the top
  26. (verb, social) cause to work
  27. (verb, social) be employed
    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
  28. (verb, social) exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity
    she worked hard for better living conditions for the poor
  29. (verb, social) cause to operate or function
    Can you work an electric drill?
  30. (verb, social) operate in or through
  31. (verb, social) have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected
    How does your idea work in practice?
    This method doesn't work
    The breaks of my new car act quickly
    The medicine works only if you take it with a lot of water
  32. (verb, social) have and exert influence or effect
    She worked on her friends to support the political candidate
  33. (verb, social) operate in a certain place, area, or specialty
    The salesman works the Midwest
    This artist works mostly in acrylics
  34. (verb, stative) behave in a certain way when handled
    The soft metal works well

via WordNet, Princeton University

Antonyms of Work


Alternate forms of Work

Derivations: work, workable, worker

Hyponyms: action, aid, answer, assist, attention, avail, bakehouse, bakery, bakeshop, bank, beat, beaver, beaver away, beehive, blackjack, blackleg, blackmail, booking, boondoggle, break, break one's back, brokerage, brokerage house, buckle down, bushwhack, busy, busywork, caning, care, carpenter, carry, carve, cast, central, chef-d'oeuvre, chip, claw, clerk, coaching, coaching job, coil, cold work, coldwork, collaborate, colliery, color, colour, computerise, computerize, cooperate, coursework, creamery, cut, cut out, cybernate, dig, dominate, double, drill site, drive, drudge, duty, electioneer, engagement, exchange, exercise, exploit, fag, farm, feed, fill, fink, fish farm, fishery, fix, follow-up, followup, forge, form, freelance, gasworks, get at, get together, glassworks, go through, grind, guess, hand-build, handbuild, handcraft, handicraft, handiwork, handwork, heavy lifting, help, hill, hot-work, housekeeping, housewifery, housework, imprint, infer, intern, investigating, investigation, ironing, ironwork, ironworks, job, join forces, jostle, keep one's nose to the grindstone, keep one's shoulder to the wheel, knuckle down, lab, labor, laboratory, labour, lacework, lacquerware, laundry, lavation, layer, leatherwork, location, logging, loose end, lumberyard, machine, make hay, make over, make-work, man, manipulate, masterpiece, masticate, mess around, metalwork, militate, minister, ministry, mission, missionary work, model, moil, mold, monkey, monkey around, moonlight, mould, mound, muck about, muck around, navigation, nightwork, occupy, openwork, operation, overcrop, overcultivate, overwork, oyster bank, oyster bed, oyster park, page, paper route, paperwork, peg away, persuade, piecework, piscary, pit, play, plug away, polishing, polychrome, potter, preform, prejudice, prepossess, pressure, prey, procedure, project, proof, proving ground, public service, publication, puddle, pull one's weight, pull strings, pull wires, putter, rack, rat, remold, research lab, research laboratory, reshape, resolve, retread, rework, riddle, roll, rope yard, ropewalk, roughcast, roundhouse, run, run through, sailing, scab, scant, science lab, science laboratory, sculpt, sculpture, seafaring, serve, service, services, shining, shipyard, shop, shop floor, silverwork, sinter, skimp, skipper, slave, slog, smithy, social service, spadework, specialise, specialize, stamp, stir, strike, studio, subbing, subcontract, substituting, swage, sway, swing, swing over, take, tannery, task, telecommuting, telephone exchange, teleworking, tending, test bed, throw, till, timework, tinker, toil, tool, travail, turn a trick, undertaking, unfinished business, upset, use, vinify, volunteer, wait, waitress, warm up, wash, washing, waterworks, welfare work, whore, wicker, wickerwork, woodwork, work, work at, work in progress, work load, work on, work out, work through, workload, workpiece, workshop, writing

Hypernyms: acquisition, activity, affect, apply, be, bear on, bear upon, becharm, become, beguile, bewitch, bring home the bacon, business, captivate, capture, care, catch, change state, charm, come through, convert, create, create from raw material, create from raw stuff, deal, deliver the goods, displace, employ, enamor, enamour, enchant, end product, energy, entrance, excite, fascinate, fix, free energy, gear up, geographic point, geographical point, get, go, go across, go through, handle, impact, job, learning, line, line of work, make, manage, manipulate, move, occupation, operate, output, pass, prepare, proceed, product, production, put to work, ready, run, set, set up, stimulate, stir, succeed, touch, touch on, trance, transform, transmute, transubstantiate, turn, understand, use, utilise, utilize, win, work

Origin of the word Work

  1. O.E. weorc, worc "something done, deed, action, proceeding, business, military fortification," from P.Gmc. *werkan (cf. O.S., O.Fris., Du. werk, O.N. verk, M.Du. warc, O.H.G. werah, Ger. Werk, Goth. gawaurki), from PIE base *werg- "to work" (see urge (v.)).
    "Work is less boring than amusing oneself." [Ba… more
  2. a fusion of O.E. wyrcan (past tense worhte, pp. geworht), from P.Gmc. *wurkijanan; and O.E. wircan (Mercian) "to work, operate, function," formed relatively late from P.Gmc. noun *werkan (see work (n.)). Worker as a type of bee is recorded from 1747. Work out "do strenuous physical exercise" first recorded 1909, originally… more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

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