Definition of work verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//wɜːk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//wɜːrk//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they work
    BrE BrE//wɜːk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//wɜːrk//
    he / she / it works
    BrE BrE//wɜːks//
    ; NAmE NAmE//wɜːrks//
    past simple worked
    BrE BrE//wɜːkt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//wɜːrkt//
    past participle worked
    BrE BrE//wɜːkt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//wɜːrkt//
    -ing form working
    BrE BrE//ˈwɜːkɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɜːrkɪŋ//
    Artwork and techniques, Language skills, Art equipment
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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/somebody 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. See related entries: Language skills
  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 skilful 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 favour Speaking Italian should work in his favour.
  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 wool See related entries: Artwork and techniques, Art equipment
  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. Word OriginOld English weorc (noun), wyrcan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch werk and German Werk, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek ergon.Extra examples A lot of mothers choose to work part-time. An architect must work within the confines of the laws of physics. Emergency teams were working around the clock to make the homes secure. Employees are motivated to work harder for a whole host of different reasons. Everything worked very smoothly. He was found to be working illegally and was deported. He’s working as a teacher at the moment. Her strategy worked like a charm. His age worked against him. I needed a job which would enable me to work at home. I prefer to work as part of a team. I told her I didn’t think things would work out between us. I work more efficiently on my own. I work primarily with young children. I’ve spent three hours working at this problem. It all worked out as we planned. My limbs seemed to be working independently of each other. She works directly with customers. She works for an oil company. The fact that you are experienced should work in your favour. The fish’s eyes can work independently of each other. They are all working towards/​toward a common goal. Things worked out well for Janet in the end. This all works out to around $11 000. We are actively working to increase the number of women in science. We are working on plans for a new swimming pool. We have proved that different groups can work harmoniously together. We worked steadily away all morning. You can make your youth work to your advantage. people who have worked closely together over a period of time the people you work with Boys who didn’t go to school worked the land with their fathers. He says they’re working him hard. I can’t work if I’m cold. I’ve always worked in education. I’ve been working at my assignment all day. Increased measures to keep out unwanted foreigners work to the disadvantage of genuine refugees. She’s outside, working on the car. The phone isn’t working. The police and public need to work together to combat crime.Idioms Most idioms containing work are at the entries for the nouns and adjectives in the idioms, for example work your fingers to the bone is at finger.  (informal) to arrange something in a particular way, especially by being clever Can you work it so that we get free tickets? Phrasal Verbswork at somethingwork something inwork somethingoffwork on somebodywork on somethingwork outwork out (at something)work somebodyoutwork somethingoutwork somebodyoverwork round to somebodywork to somethingwork towards somethingwork somethingupwork somebody upwork something up into somethingwork up to something
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: work