Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “work”

work

noun uk   /wɜːk/ us    /wɝːk/

work noun (ACTIVITY)

A1 [U] an activity, such as a job, that a person uses physical or mental effort to do, usually for money: I've got so much work to do. Carrying heavy loads around all day is hard work. What time do you start/finish work? Adrian does most of the work around the house. What sort of work are you experienced in? She tends to wear quite smart clothes for work. Roger's work involves a lot of travelling. A2 [U] the material used by someone at work, or what they produce: I'll have to take this work home with me and finish it there. All the furniture is the work of residents here.

work noun (PLACE)

A1 [U] a place where a person goes specially to do their job: Do you have far to travel to work each day? Thousands of people are seriously injured at work every year. When does she leave for work?

work noun (CREATION)

B2 [C] something created as a result of effort, especially a painting, book, or piece of music: The museum has many works by Picasso as well as other modern painters. the poetic works of Tagore

work noun (EVERYTHING)

the works informal everything that you might want or expect to find in a particular situation: The bridegroom was wearing a morning suit, gloves, top hat - the works.mainly US And let me have two large pizzas with the works (= with all available types of food on top).

work noun (FACTORY)

works [C, + sing/pl verb] (plural works) an industrial building, especially one where a lot of people are employed: a steel/car works

work noun (MACHINE)

works [plural] the parts of a machine, especially those that move: If you take the back off this clock, you can see its/the works.

work noun (PHYSICS)

[U] specialized physics force multiplied by distance moved

work

verb uk   /wɜːk/ us    /wɝːk/

work verb (HAVE EFFECT)

B1 [I usually + adv/prep] to be effective or successful: Her idea for reorganizing the department will never work in practice. The tablets will start to work in a few minutes. Some people think I'm weird doing meditation, but it works for me and that's all that matters. Arguably, the monarchy worked well for many centuries.

work verb (DO JOB)

A1 [I or T] to do a job, especially the job you do to earn money, or to make someone do a job: He works at the local hospital. She worked as a cleaner at the hospital. Mike works for a computer company. It's not unusual for a junior doctor to work a 70 or sometimes an 80-hour week. Have you any experience of working with children who have learning difficulties? The instructors worked us very hard on the survival course.
See also

work verb (OPERATE)

A2 [I or T] If a machine or device works, it operates, especially correctly and without failure, and if you work it, you make it operate: Our phone isn't working. You need a team of about twelve people to work a furnace this size. The pump works off/on (= uses) wind power. The pump is worked by (= uses to operate) wind power. I can't get the radio to work.

work verb (SUCCEED IN BECOMING)

[I or T, + adv/prep] to succeed gradually in becoming something or cause a person or thing to become something, either by making an effort or by making many small movements: He started as a technician and worked his way up through the company to become managing director. Eventually she worked her way through (= read) the huge amount of technical papers. Vibration tends to make nuts and screws work themselves loose. The screws had worked loose over time.

work verb (ARRANGE)

[T] informal to arrange for something to happen, especially by not using official methods and/or by being clever: I don't know how she worked it, but she retired at 50 on a full salary. Can we work things (out) so that there's always someone here to answer the phone during office hours?

work verb (SHAPE)

[T] to shape, change, or process a substance: Working iron requires higher temperatures than bronze. Gently work the butter into the flour until there are no lumps left.
(Definition of work noun, verb from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of work?
Browse related topics

You are looking at an entry to do with Complicated and difficult to do, but you might be interested in these topics from the Easy and difficult topic area:

Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “work” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

mutant

an organism that is different from others of its type because of a permanent change in its genes

Word of the Day

What’s that lovely smell?

by Kate Woodford​,
October 29, 2014
As adult humans, we can distinguish about 10,000 different smells. It’s no wonder, then, that we have so many words and expressions to describe them. This week we’re taking a look at those smell words – words that describe good smells and words that describe bad smells. Most smell words are either

Read More 

high-frequency trading noun

October 27, 2014
a type of stock market trading that uses very complex technology to trade extremely quickly, often making tiny profits which nevertheless add up to substantial sums Lewis’s book, Flash Boys, is driving a huge amount of attention toward the topic of high frequency trading, and it has rekindled some of

Read More