(1)   Activity directed toward making or doing something
"She checked several points needing further work"
(2)   The occupation for which you are paid
"He is looking for employment"
"A lot of people are out of work"
(3)   The total output of a writer or artist (or a substantial part of it)
"He studied the entire Wagnerian oeuvre"
"Picasso's work can be divided into periods"
(4)   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"
(5)   A place where work is done
"He arrived at work early today"
(6)   Applying the mind to learning and understanding a subject (especially by reading)
"Mastering a second language requires a lot of work"
"No schools offer graduate study in interior design"
(7)   (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"


(8)   Give a workout to
"Some parents exercise their infants"
"My personal trainer works me hard"
"Work one's muscles"
(9)   Make uniform
"Knead dough"
"Work the clay until it is soft"
(10)   Perform as expected when applied
"The washing machine won't go unless it's plugged in"
"Does this old car still run well?"
"This old radio doesn't work anymore"
(11)   Cause to happen or to occur as a consequence
"I cannot work a miracle"
"Wreak havoc"
"Bring comments"
"Play a joke"
"The rain brought relief to the drought-stricken area"
(12)   Shape, form, or improve a material
"Work stone into tools"
"Process iron"
"Work the metal"
(13)   Prepare for crops
"Work the soil"
"Cultivate the land"
(14)   Move in an agitated manner
"His fingers worked with tension"
(15)   Proceed along a path
"Work one's way through the crowd"
"Make one's way into the forest"
(16)   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"
(17)   Cause to work
"He is working his servants hard"
(18)   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"
(19)   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"
(20)   Have an effect or outcome; often the one desired or expected
"The voting process doesn't work as well as people thought"
"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"
(21)   Operate in a certain place, area, or specialty
"She works the night clubs"
"The salesman works the Midwest"
"This artist works mostly in acrylics"

Etymology 1

weorc, worc; 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 , Avestan verez (to work), Armenian . Cognates include: bulwark, energy, erg, georgic, liturgy, metallurgy, organ, surgeon, wright.


  1. Labour, employment, occupation, job.
    My work involves a lot of travel.
  2. The place where one is employed.
    He hasn’t come home yet, he’s still at work.
  3. 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. A measure of energy expended in moving an object; most commonly, force*distance. No work is done if the object does not move.
    Work is done against friction to drag a bag along the ground.
  5. A nonthermal First Law energy in transit between one form or repository and another. Also, a means of accomplishing such transit..
  6. A literary, artistic, or intellectual production.
    It is a work of art.
  7. A fortification.
    William the Conqueror fortified many castles, throwing up new ramparts, bastions and all manner of works.
  8. The staging of events to appear as real.

Etymology 2

Old English wyrċan, cognate with Old Frisian werka, wirka, Old Saxon wirkian (Dutch werken), Old High German wurken (German wirken), Old Norse yrkja (Swedish yrka), Gothic 𐍅𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌺𐌾𐌰𐌽.


  1. 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).
      • I work in a national park.
        She works in the human resources department.
        He mostly works in logging, but sometimes works in carpentry.
    2. Followed by as. Said of one's job title
      • I work as a cleaner.
    3. Followed by for. Said of a company or individual who employs.
      • She works for Microsoft.
        He works for the president.
    4. Followed by with. General use, said of either fellow employees or instruments or clients.
      • I work closely with my Canadian counterparts.
        I work with computers.
        I work with the homeless people from the suburbs.
  2. To effect by gradual degrees.
    He worked his way through the crowd.
    The dye worked its way through.
  3. To embroider with thread.
  4. To set into action.
    He worked the levers.
  5. To cause to ferment.
  6. To exhaust, by working.
    the mine was worked until the last scrap of ore had been extracted.
  7. To shape, form, or improve a material.
    He used pliers to work the wire into shape.
  8. 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. To operate in or through; as, to work the phones.
  10. To provoke or excite; to influence.
    The rock musician worked the crowd of young girls into a frenzy.
  11. To use or manipulate to one’s advantage.
    She knows how to work the system.
  12. To cause to happen or to occur as a consequence.
    I cannot work a miracle.
  13. To cause to work.
    He is working his servants hard.
  14. 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. (figuratively) To influence.
    They worked on her to join the group.
  16. To effect by gradual degrees; as, to work into the earth.
  17. To move in an agitated manner.
    His fingers worked with tension.
  18. To behave in a certain way when handled;
    This dough does not work easily.
    The soft metal works well.