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Definition of “work” - English Dictionary

"work" in American English

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 us   /wɜrk/
  • work verb (DO A JOB)

[I/T] to do a ​job, esp. a ​job you do to ​earnmoney: [T] She works ​longhours. [T] Richie worked the ​nightshift. [I] Designers worked with the ​director. [I] Mike works for a ​computercompany. [I] Medics were working on him for an ​hour. [I] She worked on the ​project with Luce. [I] Anna works well with ​others. [I] I have to work on ​Saturday.
  • work verb (PERFORM AS INTENDED)

[I/T] to ​perform as ​intended or ​desired, or to ​cause something to do what it was ​intended to do: [I] The ​medicine ought to work ​right away. [I] Our ​plan worked ​perfectly. [T] I don’t ​know how to work this ​computer. [T] He ​knows how to work the ​system (= get what he ​wants from it).
  • work verb (HAVE EFFECT)

[I always + adv/prep] (of a ​condition or ​fact) to have an ​effect, esp. one that either ​helps or ​causesdifficulties: Time was working against us. Jimmie has a lot working in his ​favor.
  • work verb (MAKE OBJECT)

[T] to ​shape something with ​yourhands: She ​carefully works the ​clay.


 us   /wɜrk/
  • work noun (FORCE)

physics [U] force used on an ​objectmultiplied by the ​distance it moves the ​object, ​measured in joules
  • work noun (PLACE)

[U] the ​place where a ​personregularly goes to do his or her ​job: I had to ​leave work early. Does it take ​long to ​commute to work?
  • work noun (OBJECT)

[C] an ​objectproduced as a ​result of ​effort, esp. something ​intended to be ​art: The ​museum is ​showing works by 20th-century ​artists.
  • work noun (DO A JOB)

[U] the use of ​effort to do or make something that has ​value, and for which you are usually ​paid: outdoor/​office/​manual work Steve’s out of work again (= not ​employed).
(Definition of work from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"work" in British English

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uk   /wɜːk/  us   /wɝːk/
  • work noun (ACTIVITY)

A1 [U] an ​activity, such as a ​job, that a ​person uses ​physical or ​mentaleffort to do, usually for ​money: I've got so much work to do. Carrying ​heavyloads around all ​day is hard work. What ​time do you start/​finish work? Aileen does most of the work around the ​house. What ​sort of work are you ​experienced in? She ​tends to ​wearquitedressyclothes 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.

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  • work noun (PLACE)

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

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  • 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 ​modernpainters. the ​poetic works of Tagore

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  • work noun (SURGERY)

[U] informal surgery (= a ​medicaloperation) that is done to ​improve someone's ​appearance: She ​denies having had any ​cosmeticsurgery, but I ​think she's ​definitely had some work done.
  • work noun (MACHINE)

works [plural]
the ​parts of a ​machine, ​especially those that ​move: If you take the back off this ​clock, you can ​seeits/the works.
  • work noun (PHYSICS)

[U] specialized physics forcemultiplied by ​distancemoved


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 ​peoplethink I'm ​weird doing ​meditation, but it works for me and that's all that ​matters. Arguably, the ​monarchy worked well for many ​centuries.

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  • work verb (DO JOB)

A1 [I or T] to do a ​job, ​especially the ​job you do to ​earnmoney, or to make someone do a ​job: He works at the ​hospital. She worked as a ​cleaner at the ​hospital. Mike works for a ​computercompany. It's not ​unusual for a ​juniordoctor to work a 70 or sometimes an 80-hour ​week. Have you any ​experience of working withchildren who have ​learning difficulties? The ​instructors worked us very hard on the ​survivalcourse.
See also

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  • work verb (OPERATE)

A2 [I or T] If a ​machine or ​device works, it ​operates, ​especiallycorrectly 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)windpower. The ​pump is worked by (= uses to ​operate)windpower. I can't get the ​radio to work.

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  • work verb (SUCCEED IN BECOMING)

[I or T, + adv/prep] to ​succeedgradually in ​becoming something or ​cause a ​person or thing to ​become something, either by making an ​effort or by making many ​smallmovements: He ​started as a ​technician and worked his way up through the ​company to ​becomemanagingdirector. Eventually she worked her way through (= ​read) the ​hugeamount of ​technicalpapers. Vibration ​tends to make ​nuts and ​screws work themselves loose. The ​screws had worked ​loose over ​time.

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  • work verb (ARRANGE)

[T] informal to ​arrange for something to ​happen, ​especially by not using ​officialmethods and/or by being ​clever: I don't ​know how she worked it, but she ​retired at 50. Can we work things (out) so that there's always someone here to ​answer the ​phone during ​officehours?
  • work verb (SHAPE)

[T] to ​shape, ​change, or ​process a ​substance: Working ​ironrequireshighertemperatures than ​bronze. Gently work the ​butter into the ​flour until there are no ​lumpsleft.


uk   / -wɜːk/  us   / -wɝːk/
(Definition of work from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"work" in Business English

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uk   us   /wɜːk/
[I or T] HR, WORKPLACE to do a ​job, especially to ​earnmoney: Do you work? He works as a ​computertechnician. My brother works for a large American ​corporation. How many ​people work at your ​company? work ​full-time/​part-time/from ​home work an eight-hour day/hard/​longhours work in a ​bank/​factory/an ​office
[I] to ​spendtime and ​effort doing something: We were working on the ​presentation all night. The two countries worked together on ​developing the ​technology. Multinationals will have to work with governments to ​achieve the best ​balance between openness and ​security.
[I] to ​try hard to ​achieve or ​improve something: work at/on sth You need to work on your ​communicationskills. I'm not very confident on the ​phone, but I'm prepared to work at working towards sth Our ​firm is working towards being a paperless ​environment.
[I] to be ​effective or ​successful: The ​plan seemed to work well. The ​currentsystem isn't working, so we'll need to ​look at an alternative.
[I] WORKPLACE, IT if a ​machine or ​piece of ​equipment works, it ​operates as expected: My ​computer isn't working. I can't get this ​printer to work.
[T] informal WORKPLACE, IT to ​operate a ​machine or ​piece of ​equipment: He doesn't ​even know how to work a ​photocopier.
[T] COMMERCE to go around a particular ​area that you are ​responsible for, especially in a ​salesjob: His ​sales were better when he was working the London ​area.
[I] to have a good or ​badeffect: The ​terms they're ​offering don't work for us. His ​poorcommand of English worked against him in the ​interview. Her previous ​salesexperience worked in her favour.
[T] to ​change the ​shape of a ​material to make something else with it: work leather/metal
work a mine
NATURAL RESOURCES to dig for coal, ​minerals, etc.: These men have been working the ​mines all their ​lives.
work sb hard
to make someone use a lot of ​effort: He works his ​trainees really hard.
work it so (that) informal
to ​arrange for something to ​happen in a way that is useful for you: I'm going to ​try and work it so I can ​spend the ​weekend in New York after the ​conference.
work the land formal
to prepare the soil to ​growcrops on it: We're here to thank those who work the ​land to ​feed us.
work the system
to know how to ​deal with a ​system or ​organization to get the ​result you want: People who know how to work the ​system can significantly ​reduce their ​taxbill.
work things out
to ​deal with a ​situation successfully, especially when there is a problem: I'll ​try to work things out with our ​suppliers.
work your way up sth (also work your way up to sth)
to do a ​series of ​jobs at different ​levels in an ​organization until you ​reach a ​position at the ​top of the ​organization: She ​joined the ​company as a ​salesrep but worked her way up to ​ your way up the ladder/hierarchy/ranks I'd like to ​stay here and work my way up the ​auditcareerladder.

worknoun [U]

uk   us   /wɜːk/
HR the ​job that someone does, usually to ​earnmoney: full-time/part-time work Many ​pensioners will have to consider ​part-time work to ​supplement their ​retirementplans.find/get/look for work The government's ​initiative helps the ​unemployedfind work. He's been out of work for six months now. permanent/​regular/​temporary work paid/​unpaid/​voluntary work badly ​paid/well-paid work give up/go back to/​return to work
WORKPLACE a ​place, such as an ​office, a ​factory, etc., where someone goes to do their ​job: The Managing Director always arrived at work early and ​stayed late. She ​claimed her ​stress was the ​result of the bank's ​hostile work ​environment. be at/go to/leave work What ​time do you go to work in the morning?
WORKPLACE the ​responsibilities that are ​part of your ​job: start/finish/stop work I don't ​finish work until 6.30 pm. I need to take some time off work to ​look after my son. Analysts refer to various ​sources of ​information to ​help them make ​investment decisions in their ​day-to-day work. The ​governmentlaunched an ​inquiry into the work of the Monetary Policy Committee. do/enjoy/hate your work factory/​manual/​office work administrative/​clerical/​secretarial work
WORKPLACE the ​tasks that need to be completed: do/produce/take on work The ​department can't take on any more work until this ​project is ​finished. I always end up taking work ​home at the ​weekend.
the mental or ​physicaleffort involved in doing or ​achieving something: The ​builders started work on the new ​offices last week.carry out/put in work The whole ​team put in a lot of hard work to ​win the ​contract. We need to set to work onreviewing our ​claimssystem. The ​financedepartment has been hard at work on its year-end ​report. Management still has a lot of work to do to ensure the company's future. The committee's ​report was a very good piece of work. good/hard work innovative/​major/​outstanding work
[plural] UK the ​activity of ​building or ​repairing something: engineering/repair works The road was ​closed for ​essentialrepair works.
[C] PRODUCTION an ​industrialbuilding where ​materials or ​goods are ​manufactured: Residents ​protested about the ​wasteproduced by the nearby ​industrial works. a chemical/​gas/​steel works the works ​foreman/​manager/​supervisor the works ​close down/​open
have your work cut out for you informal
to have something very difficult to do: The ​government has its work ​cut out for it ​trying to ​reduce the ​nationaldeficit.
in the works
in the ​process of being ​planned or discussed: Protesters ​claim the ​proposedcuts had been in the works for months.
(Definition of work from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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