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Middle English werk, work, from Old English werc, , weorc; akin to Old High German werc work, Greek ergon, Avestan varəzem activity

For lessons on the topic of Work, follow this link.


  • 1 : activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something
a. sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result
b. the labor, task, or duty that is one's accustomed means of livelihood
c. a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity
b : the result of such energy <sand dunes are the work of sea and wind>
c : the transference of energy that is produced by the motion of the point of application of a force and is measured by multiplying the force and the displacement of its point of application in the line of action
  • 3 a : something that results from a particular manner or method of working, operating, or devising <careful police work> <clever camera work>
b : something that results from the use or fashioning of a particular material <porcelain work>
  • 4 a : a fortified structure (as a fort, earthen barricade, or trench)
b plural : structures in engineering (as docks, bridges, or embankments) or mining (as shafts or tunnels)
  • 5 plural but sing or plural in constr : a place where industrial labor is carried on : plant, factory
  • 6 plural : the working or moving parts of a mechanism <the works of a clock>
  • 7 a : something produced or accomplished by effort, exertion, or exercise of skill <this book is the work of many hands>
b : something produced by the exercise of creative talent or expenditure of creative effort : artistic production <an early work by a major writer>
  • 8 plural : performance of moral or religious acts <salvation by works>
  • 9 a : effective operation : effect, result <wait for time to do its healing work>
b : manner of working : workmanship, execution
  • 10 : the material or piece of material that is operated upon at any stage in the process of manufacture
  • 11 plural a : everything possessed, available, or belonging <the whole works, rod, reel, tackle box, went overboard> <ordered pizza with the works>
b : subjection to drastic treatment : all possible abuse —usually used with get<get the works> or give<gave them the works>

— at work 1 : engaged in working : busy; especially : engaged in one's regular occupation 2 : having effect : operating, functioning — in the works : in process of preparation, development, or completion — in work 1 : in process of being done 2 of a horse : in training — out of work : without regular employment : jobless


work, labor, travail, toil, drudgery, grind mean activity involving effort or exertion. work may imply activity of body, of mind, of a machine, or of a natural force <too tired to do any work>. labor applies to physical, intellectual, or spiritual work involving great and often strenuous exertion <farmers demanding fair compensation for their labor>. travail is bookish for labor involving pain or suffering <years of travail were lost when the house burned>. toil implies prolonged and fatiguing labor <his lot would be years of back-breaking toil>. drudgery suggests dull and irksome labor <an editorial job with a good deal of drudgery>. grind implies labor exhausting to mind or body <the grind of the assembly line>.

synonyms work, employment, occupation, calling, pursuit, métier, business mean a specific sustained activity engaged in especially in earning one's living. work may apply to any purposeful activity whether remunerative or not <her work as a hospital volunteer>. employment implies work for which one has been engaged and is being paid by an employer <your employment with this firm is hereby terminated>. occupation implies work in which one engages regularly especially as a result of training <his occupation as a trained auto mechanic>. calling applies to an occupation viewed as a vocation or profession <the ministry seemed my true calling>. pursuit suggests a trade, profession, or avocation followed with zeal or steady interest <her family considered medicine the only proper pursuit>. métier implies a calling or pursuit for which one believes oneself to be especially fitted <acting was my one and only métier>. business suggests activity in commerce or the management of money and affairs <the business of managing a hotel>.