American English

Definition of work verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they work
    he / she / it works
    past simple worked
    -ing form working
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    do job/task
  1. 1[intransitive] to do something that involves physical or mental effort, especially as part of a job I can't work if I'm cold. work at something I've been working at my assignment all day. work on something He is working on a new novel. She's outside, working on the car. + noun Doctors often work very long hours.
  2. 2[intransitive] to have a job Both my parents work. work for somebody/something She works for an engineering company. work in something I've always worked in education. work with somebody/something Do you enjoy working with children? work as something My son is working as a teacher.
  3. make effort
  4. 3[transitive] work yourself/somebody + adv./prep. to make yourself/someone work, especially very hard She works herself too hard.
  5. 4[intransitive] to make efforts to achieve something work for something She dedicated her life to working for peace. work to do something The committee is working to get the prisoners freed. The police and the public need to work together to combat crime.
  6. manage
  7. 5[transitive] work something to manage or operate something to gain benefit from it to work the land (= grow crops on it, etc.) He works a large area (= selling a company's goods, etc.). (figurative) She was a skillful speaker who knew how to work a crowd (= to excite them or make them feel something strongly).
  8. machine/device
  9. 6[intransitive] to function; to operate The phone isn't working. It works by electricity. Are they any closer to understanding how the brain works?
  10. 7[transitive] work something to make a machine, device, etc. operate Do you know how to work the coffee machine? The machine is worked by wind power.
  11. have result/effect
  12. 8[intransitive] to have the result or effect that you want The pills the doctor gave me aren't working. My plan worked, and I got them to agree. work on somebody/something His charm doesn't work on me (= does not affect or impress me).
  13. 9[intransitive] to have a particular effect work against somebody Your age can work against you in this job. work in somebody's favor Speaking Italian should work in his favor.
  14. 10[transitive] work something to cause or produce something as a result of effort You can work miracles with very little money if you follow our home decoration tips.
  15. use material
  16. 11[transitive] to make a material into a particular shape or form by pressing, stretching, hitting it, etc. work something to work clay to work gold work something into something to work the mixture into a paste
  17. 12[intransitive] work (in/with something) (of an artist, etc.) to use a particular material to produce a picture or other item an artist working in oils a craftsman working with wood
  18. of part of face/body
  19. 13[intransitive] (formal) to move violently He stared at me in horror, his mouth working.
  20. move gradually
  21. 14[intransitive, transitive] to move or pass to a particular place or state, usually gradually + adv./prep. It will take a while for the drug to work out of your system. work your way + adv./prep. (figurative) He worked his way to the top of his profession. work yourself/something + adj. I was tied up, but managed to work myself free. + adj. The screw had worked loose.
  22. Idioms
    work it/things (informal)
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    to arrange something in a particular way, especially by being smart Can you work it so that we get free tickets?
    Phrasal Verbswork around to something/somebodywork at somethingwork something inwork somethingoffwork on somebodywork on somethingwork outwork out (to something)work somethingoutwork somebodyoverwork to somethingwork toward somethingwork somethingupwork somebody/yourself up (into something)work something up into somethingwork up to something
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: work