Definition of “do” - English Dictionary

“do” in British English

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doauxiliary verb

uk // /du/ /duː/ us // /du/ /duː/ did, done

do auxiliary verb (FOR QUESTIONS/NEGATIVES)

A1 used with another verb to form questions and negative sentences, including negative orders, and sometimes in affirmative sentences for reasons of style:

Where do you work?
Why did you do that?
Why don't we have lunch together on Friday?
Doesn't Matthew look old these days?
"Didn't you realize she was deaf?" "No I didn't."/"Of course I did."
Not only did I speak to her, I even got her autograph!
formal Never did I hear such a terrible noise.
Don't (you) speak to me like that!
UK Don't let's argue about it (= let's not argue about it).
formal So quietly did she speak (= she spoke so quietly) that I could scarcely hear her.
Little does he know (= he knows nothing about it), but we're flying to Geneva next weekend to celebrate his birthday.
"I want two chocolate bars and an ice cream." "Do you now/indeed? (= that is surprising or unreasonable)."

A2 used instead of the main verb in questions that are added to the end of a sentence to check information:

You met him at our party, didn't you?
You don't understand the question, do you?

used instead of the main verb in questions that are added to the end of a sentence as a way of expressing surprise:

So Susannah and May finally got married, did they?

More examples

  • What sort of music do you like dancing to?
  • "And where do you think you're going?" demanded the police officer.
  • Please don't disturb Georgina when she's working.
  • How much do you earn, if you don't mind me asking?
  • Parking restrictions do not extend to disabled people.

do auxiliary verb (TO AVOID REPEATING)

B1 used to avoid repeating a verb or verb phrase:

She runs much faster than he does.
Maria looks much healthier than she did.
"I don't like intense heat." "Neither/Nor do I."
"I hate intense heat." "So do I."
"You left your umbrella." "So I did. I'm so forgetful these days."
UK "Would you mind tidying up the kitchen?" "I already have done."
"May I join you?" "Please do!"
"Who said that?" "I did."
"Tilly speaks fluent Japanese." "Does she really?"
"I thought I'd take a day off school today." "Oh no you don't (= I'm not going to let you do that)!"

More examples

  • I'm all for sexual equality, but I don't want my wife earning more than I do.
  • The government has failed to raise educational standards, despite its promise to do so.
  • Please don't get involved with him. You'll regret it if you do.
  • Don't mix up the bottles - you'll have to repeat the experiment if you do.
  • On average, people who don't smoke are healthier than people who do.

do auxiliary verb (FOR EMPHASIS)

B2 [ + infinitive without to ] used to give extra force to the main verb:

"Can I buy stamps here?" "Well, we do sell them, but we don't have any at the moment."
UK Do shut up, Georgia, and get on with your homework.
UK Do write and let me know how you're getting on.
UK He cooks a lot does Alex. He does far more than me.

More examples

  • Although I cherish my children, I do allow them their independence.
  • I do like her - after all, she is my sister.
  • If you see James, do convey my apologies to him.
  • Oh darling, I do love you.
  • If ever you're in Cambridge, do give me a ring.


uk // /du/ /duː/ us // /du/ /duː/ did, done

do verb (PERFORM)

A1 [ T ] to perform, take part in, or achieve something:

That was a really stupid thing to do.
What are you doing over the weekend?
The only thing we can do now is wait and see what happens.
UK Why were you sent to see the headmaster? What have you done now?
US Why were you sent to the principal's office? What did you do now?
You should be able to do it by yourself/on your own.
UK What have you done (= made happen) to her?
US What did you do (= make happen) to her?
What (on earth) were you doing in the library (= why were you there) at two o'clock in the morning?
What are these toys doing here? (= Why are they here?)
What do you do (for a living)? (= What is your job?)
What can I do for you? (= How can I help you?)
UK What have you done with (= where have you put) my coat?
US What did you do with (= where did you put) my coat?
She just hasn't known what to do with herself (= how to keep herself busy) since she retired.
do sth about sth

to take action to deal with something:

It's a global problem - what can individuals do about it?
do well/badly by sb formal

to treat someone well or badly

More examples

  • The work that the students do during the year will count towards their final degrees.
  • My boss wants me to do a day-release course in computing.
  • She has to do a lot of driving in her job.
  • They've always encouraged me in everything I've wanted to do.
  • I do a few stretches every morning to loosen up before I run.

do verb (ACT)

[ I or T ] to act or take action:

Stop arguing with me, Daryl, and do as you're told!
She told me not to ask any questions, just to do as she did.
"Was it wrong of me to go to the police?" "Oh no, I'm sure you did right/did the right thing."
You'd do well to take some professional advice on this matter.

More examples

  • Should the government do more to help young couples buy their own homes?
  • I wish you'd do something about your bedroom - it's a real mess.
  • He would never do anything to endanger the lives of his children.
  • Just do whatever you think fit - I'm sure you'll make the right decision.
  • I'm not happy with the situation but, you know, there isn't much I can do about it.

do verb (CONNECTED)

to do with

B2 connected with:

"Why did you want to talk to me?" "Well, it's to do with a complaint that's been made about your work."
"But I didn't have any money." "What does that have to do with it? You still shouldn't have taken my wallet without asking me."
She refused to have anything (more) to do with him after he was arrested for drinking and driving.
"I thought I should tell you I saw your son smoking today." "Mind your own business! What my son does has nothing to do with you!"

do verb (DEAL WITH)

A1 [ T ] to deal with or be responsible for something:

Lucia is going to do the publicity for the school play.
If they ask any awkward questions, just let me do the talking.

More examples

  • I find it convenient to be able to do my banking by phone.
  • I've got enough work to do at the moment, without being given any more.
  • Why should I have to do all the cleaning? It's not fair!
  • "I'll do the cooking, " he offered.
  • It's a big garden, but we do all the gardening ourselves .

do verb (STUDY)

A1 [ T ] UK to study a subject:

Diane did anthropology at university.

More examples

  • "What degree did you do at York?" "Geography."
  • Tim did a three-year course in linguistics at Newcastle.
  • She did English literature at St Andrews before going abroad to teach.
  • Richard did engineering at Manchester University.
  • This problem should be easy enough for someone who's done physics at A level.

do verb (SOLVE)

[ T ] to solve or find the answer to something:

to do a puzzle
I've never been able to do crosswords.

More examples

  • I do the Times crossword every morning.
  • When you finish doing the crossword, the solution is on the back page.
  • We spent all evening doing a 1000-piece jigsaw.
  • It rained for the entire holiday so they just stayed in and did jigsaws all week.
  • I remember how much I hated doing sums when I was at school.

do verb (MAKE)

A2 [ T ] to make, produce, or create something:

I can't go out tonight - I've got to do my history paper.
[ + two objects ] UK Can you do me 20 photocopies of this report/do 20 photocopies of this report for me?

More examples

  • He's upstairs doing his homework, believe it or not.
  • I've been doing some research on our family history and I've dug up some interesting information.
  • Please don't disturb Georgina - she's trying to do her homework.
  • In our third year at college everyone had to do a special project.
  • He's done some lovely watercolours.

do verb (FINISH)

UK [ I ] If you say that you have done with something or someone, or have done performing a particular action, you mean that you have finished what you were doing with something or someone, or what you were saying to someone, or that you have finished the action:

Have you done with those scissors yet?
Where are you going? I haven't done with you yet (= I am still talking to you).
[ + -ing verb ] I haven't done talking to you yet.


B1 [ I or T ] to clean something, or make something look neat and attractive:

I cooked the dinner so you can do (= wash) the dishes.
UK I want to do (= clean) the living room this afternoon.

More examples

  • I'll do your washing for you this time, but I'm not going to make a practice of it.
  • Have you done the dishes?
  • I like the way you've had your hair done.
  • "I'll do the kitchen if you clean the car." "OK, it's a bargain."
  • Just put the dirty dishes in the washing-up bowl, and I'll do them later.

do verb (ARRANGE)

[ T ] mainly UK to arrange something:

You've done those flowers beautifully.
Can anyone here do (= tie) bow-ties?

More examples

  • Where did you have your hair done?
  • Give me a couple of minutes while I do my hair.
  • Who did the flowers for the wedding? They're beautiful!
  • Now come on, you're old enough to do your own shoelaces, Carlo.
  • Who did your tie for you? It's not straight.

do verb (TRAVEL)

[ T ] to travel a particular distance or to travel at a particular speed:

It's an old car and it's done over 80,000 miles.
My new car does 50 miles to the gallon (= uses one gallon of fuel to travel 50 miles)
He was caught doing 80 miles an hour.

[ T ] to complete a journey:

We did the journey to Boston in five hours.

More examples

  • My car only does about 60 mph, even when it's going flat out.
  • We were doing 90mph, so that other car that passed us must have been really travelling!


C1 [ I or T ] mainly UK to be acceptable, suitable, or enough:

Will this room do or would you prefer one with a shower?
This kind of behaviour just won't do.
I don't have any grapefruit juice, but I've got some orange juice. Will that do (you)?
"Is that enough potato, or would you like some more?" "That'll do (= be enough for) me, thanks."

More examples

  • Have you got any ID? A driving licence or cheque card will do.
  • You don't need to dress up just to go to the pub - jeans and a T-shirt will do.
  • "Would you like the metal or plastic one?" "Either will do."
  • "More peas?" "No, that'll do, thank you."
  • That'll do nicely, thank you.

do verb (CAUSE TO HAVE)

[ T ] to provide or sell something, or to cause someone to have something:

They are doing a special offer - three for the price of two.
Do you do travel insurance as well as flights?
The bar only does food at lunchtimes, not in the evenings.

More examples

  • They do really good food at that restaurant and it's not very expensive either.
  • They do really good grub in our local.
  • The shop round the corner does shoe repairs very cheaply.
  • The restaurant does a set lunch on Sundays.
  • They're doing a great deal on wine at the local supermarket.

do verb (COOK)

[ T ] to cook or prepare food:

Who's doing the food for your party?
[ + two objects ] UK I'll do you some scrambled eggs.

More examples

  • I was thinking of doing a meal along the lines of that dinner I did for Annie and Dave.
  • I did mostly vegetarian food but put a couple of meat dishes out for the carnivores.
  • The fish was done to perfection.
  • I've just bought a deep-fat fryer for doing chips.
  • I did the dinner so you can do the dishes.

do verb (MANAGE)

B1 [ I usually + adverb ] to develop or continue with the stated amount of success:

How is Mary doing in her new job/school?
Both the new mother and her baby are doing very well.
Are your roses doing all right this year?
Many small businesses are doing badly because of the economic situation.
I did pretty well when I traded in my car - they gave me a good price for it.
Alexa has done well for herself (= has achieved great personal success), getting such a highly paid job.

More examples

  • I wouldn't say she's rich, but she's doing all right.
  • You're doing really well - don't lose heart now.
  • I was doing really well with my diet, but I'm afraid I've let it slide recently.
  • The whole nation was force-fed government propaganda about how well the country was doing.
  • They're doing fantastically well this season.

do verb (VISIT)

[ T ] informal to visit the interesting places in a town or country, or to look around an interesting place:

We didn't get to do Nice when we were in France.

donoun [ C ]

uk /duː/ us /duː/ plural dos

donoun [ S ]

also doh uk /dəʊ/ us /doʊ/

(Definition of “do” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“do” in American English

See all translations

doauxiliary verb

us /du/ present tense does /dʌz, dəz/ , past tense did /dɪd/

do auxiliary verb (FOR QUESTIONS/NEGATIVES)

past participle done /dʌn/ used with another verb to form questions and negative sentences:

Where do you work?
Why don’t we have lunch together on Friday?
"Didn’t you know Sophie was coming?" "Of course I did."
Don’t talk about that.
Note: The negative contractions are doesn’t, didn’t, and don’t.

do auxiliary verb (FOR EMPHASIS)

used to give extra force to the main verb:

Do be careful.
I did say she was a liar, but I was wrong.
"Can I buy stamps here?" "Well, we do sell them, but we’re out of them right now."

do auxiliary verb (TO AVOID REPEATING)

past participle done /dʌn/ used to avoid repeating a verb or verb phrase:

"I don’t like either candidate." "Neither do I."
He said he’d leave the car in the garage, but he didn’t.
"May I join you?" "Please do!"
"Did you leave the door open?" "Yes, I did."

past participle done /dʌn/ Do can also replace the main verb in questions that are added to the end of a sentence:

You met him at a conference, didn’t you?


us /du/ present tense does /dʌz, dəz/ , past tense did /dɪd/ , past participle done /dʌn/


[ T ] to cause something to happen or be the cause of something happening; perform or have a part in an activity:

Inviting the whole family was a really nice thing to do.
What are you doing over the weekend?
I’ve got to stay home and do my homework.
The theater club is doing "South Pacific" this year.
I’m sorry, there’s nothing more to be done (= nothing else will help).
It isn’t important whether you win or lose – just do your best.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you (= dealing with you).
The company is counting on each of you to do your part/share.
Would you do me a favor (= help me) and get some bread while you’re out?
A little fresh air will do you some good (= make you feel better).
What are these toys doing here (= Why are they here)?
I’ve been trying to do (= solve) this puzzle for hours.
What can I do for you (= How can I help you)?
What have you done with my coat (= Where have you put it)?
Since she retired, she doesn’t know what to do with herself (= how to keep herself busy).

[ T ] To do can mean to work at as a regular job:

"What do you do?" "I teach high school math."

[ T ] If you ask or say how someone is doing, you are asking or saying how the person is feeling or what the person’s condition is:

How are you folks doing today?
Both the mother and her new baby are doing fine.
We’ve had some difficult times, but we’re doing all right now.

[ T ] If you say what’s doing or what’s doing at a particular place, you are asking what is happening there:

What’s doing at the office?

do verb (ARRANGE)

[ T ] to shape, arrange, or fix something in an attractive way:

Who does your hair?

do verb (TRAVEL)

[ T ] to travel at a stated speed or over a particular distance:

We were only doing 70 miles per hour.
We did 400 miles yesterday.


[ I ] to be acceptable, suitable, or enough:

"Will this room do?" "Yes, it’ll be fine."
This kind of behavior just won’t do.

(Definition of “do” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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