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



    BrE BrE//wɜːk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//wɜːrk//
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  1. 1  [uncountable] the job that a person does especially in order to earn money synonym employment She had been out of work (= without a job) for a year. (British English) They are in work (= have a job). He started work as a security guard. It is difficult to find work in the present economic climate. I'm still looking for work. She's planning to return to work once the children start school. What line of work are you in (= what type of work do you do)? before/after work (= in the morning/evening each day) full-time/part-time/unpaid/voluntary work Wordfinderapply, appoint, contract, dismiss, employ, job, pay, retire, work, workforce CollocationsJobsGetting a job look for work look for/​apply for/​go for a job get/​pick up/​complete/​fill out/ (British English) fill in an application (form) send/​email your (British English) CV/(North American English) résumé/application/​application form/​covering letter be called for/​have/​attend an interview offer somebody a job/​work/​employment/​promotion find/​get/​land a job employ/ (especially North American English) hire/​recruit/ (especially British English) take on staff/​workers/​trainees recruit/​appoint a managerDoing a job arrive at/​get to/​leave work/​the office/​the factory start/​finish work/​your shift do/​put in/​work overtime have/​gain/​get/​lack/​need experience/​qualifications do/​get/​have/​receive training learn/​pick up/​improve/​develop (your) skills cope with/​manage/​share/​spread the workload improve your/​achieve a better work-life balance have (no) job satisfaction/​job securityBuilding a career have a job/​work/​a career/​a vocation find/​follow/​pursue/ (especially North American English) live (out) your vocation enter/​go into/​join a profession choose/​embark on/​start/​begin/​pursue a career change jobs/​profession/​career be/ (both especially British English) work/​go freelance do/​take on temp work/​freelance work do/​be engaged in/​be involved in voluntary workLeaving your job leave/ (especially North American English) quit/​resign from your job give up work/​your job/​your career hand in your notice/​resignation plan to/​be due to retire in June/​next year, etc. take early retirement CollocationsUnemploymentLosing your job lose your job (British English) become/​be made redundant be offered/​take voluntary redundancy/​early retirement face/​be threatened with dismissal/(British English) the sack/(British English) compulsory redundancy dismiss/​fire/ (especially British English) sack an employee/​a worker/​a manager lay off staff/​workers/​employees (Australian English, New Zealand English, South African English) retrench workers cut/​reduce/​downsize/​slash the workforce (British English) make staff/​workers/​employees redundantBeing unemployed be unemployed/​out of work/​out of a job seek/​look for work/​employment be on/​collect/​draw/​get/​receive (both British English) unemployment benefit/​jobseeker’s allowance be/​go/​live/​sign (British English, informal) on the dole claim/​draw/​get (British English, informal) the dole be on/​qualify for (North American English) unemployment (compensation) be/​go/​live/​depend (North American English) on welfare collect/​receive (North American English) welfare combat/​tackle/​cut/​reduce unemployment Wordfinderadministrative, freelance, managerial, manual, part-time, seasonal, skilled, temporary, voluntary, work Synonymsworkemployment career profession occupation tradeThese are all words for the work that somebody does in return for payment, especially over a long period of time. work the job that somebody does, especially in order to earn money:It’s very difficult to find work at the moment.employment (rather formal) work, especially when it is done to earn money; the state of being employed or the situation in which people have work:Only half the people here are in paid employment.career the job or series of jobs that somebody has in a particular area of work, usually involving more responsibility as time passes:He had a very distinguished career in the Foreign Office.profession a type of job that needs special training or skill, especially one that needs a high level of education:He hopes to enter the medical profession. The profession is all the people who work in a particular profession:the legal profession. The professions are the traditional jobs that need a high level of education and training, such as being a doctor or lawyer.occupation (rather formal) a job or profession:Please state your name, age, and occupation.trade a job, especially one that involves working with your hands and requires special training and skills:Carpentry is a highly skilled trade.Patterns in/​out of work/​employment (a) full-time/​part-time work/​employment/​career/​occupation permanent/​temporary work/​employment (a) well-paid work/​employment/​profession/​occupation (a) low-paid work/​employment/​occupation to look for/​seek/​find work/​employment/​a career/​an occupation to get/​obtain/​give somebody/​offer somebody/​create/​generate/​provide work/​employment Culturevoluntary workVoluntary work is work that you do not get paid for and usually involves doing things to help other people, especially the elderly or the sick, or working on behalf of a charity or similar organization. Most charitable organizations rely on unpaid volunteers, and thousands of Americans and British people give many hours of their time to doing some form of social work or organizing fund-raising events to support the work. Volunteering is especially popular in the US and the reasons for this may be found in basic American values such as the Protestant work ethic, the idea that work improves the person who does it, and the belief that people can change their condition if they try hard enough.Volunteering is usually enjoyable, as people choose jobs close to their personal interests. For instance, people who like animals may volunteer in an animal shelter, a place for animals which have been treated badly . Some voluntary work is short-term, e.g. when people from a community get together to create a park. Other work is longer term, such as that of the US organization Habitat for Humanity which builds houses for poor people. Parents often volunteer at their children's schools, and do things like building a play area or raising money for new equipment. Young people are also encouraged to do voluntary work. Schoolchildren visit old people in hospitals or homes, and students at college often raise money for charities. In the US young people over 18 can take part in AmeriCorps, a government programme that encourages them to work as volunteers for a period of time, with the promise of help in paying for their education later. Older Americans who do not work may spend much of their free time volunteering.In Britain a lot of voluntary work is directed towards supporting the country's social services. the Royal Voluntary Service and other organizations run a meals on wheels service in many parts of Britain, providing hot food for old people who are unable to cook for themselves. The nationwide Citizens Advice Bureau, which offers free advice to the public on a wide range of issues, is run mainly by volunteers, and the Blood Transfusion Service relies on voluntary blood donors to give blood for use in hospitals. Political parties use volunteers at election time, and Churches depend on volunteers to keep buildings clean.Both Britain and the US have organizations dedicated to helping people overseas. Britain's Voluntary Service Overseas sends people to work in developing countries for up to two years to share their skills with the local population. The US Peace Corps has similar aims and programmes.
  2. 2  [uncountable] the duties that you have and the activities that you do as part of your job Police work is mainly routine. The accountant described his work to the sales staff. see also piecework, social work
  3. 3  [uncountable] tasks that need to be done There is plenty of work to be done in the garden. Taking care of a baby is hard work. I have some work for you to do. Stop talking and get on with your work. see also homework, schoolwork
  4. 4[uncountable] materials needed or used for doing work, especially books, papers, etc. She often brings work (= for example, files and documents) home with her from the office. His work was spread all over the floor. see also paperwork
  5. place of job
  6. 5  [uncountable] (used without the) the place where you do your job I go to work at 8 o'clock. When do you leave for work? The new legislation concerns health and safety at work. I have to leave work early today. Her friends from work came to see her in the hospital.
  7. effort
  8. 6  [uncountable] the use of physical strength or mental power in order to do or make something She earned her grades through sheer hard work. We started work on the project in 2009. Work continues on renovating the hotel. The work of building the bridge took six months. The art collection was his life's work. She set them to work painting the fence. They performed pioneering work on the treatment of cancer. see also donkey work, fieldwork
  9. product of work
  10. 7  [uncountable] a thing or things that are produced as a result of work She's an artist whose work I really admire. Is this all your own work (= did you do it without help from others)? The book is a detailed and thorough piece of work covering all aspects of the subject.
  11. result of action
  12. 8[uncountable] the result of an action; what is done by somebody The damage is clearly the work of vandals.
  13. book/music/art
  14. 9  [countable] a book, piece of music, painting, etc. the collected/complete works of Tolstoy works of fiction/literature Beethoven’s piano works He recognized the sketch as an early work by Degas. compare opus see also work of art
  15. building/repairing
  16. 10works [plural] (often in compounds) activities involving building or repairing something roadworks They expanded the shipyards and started engineering works. A contract can ensure that landlords carry out the works for which they are legally responsible. see also public works
  17. factory
  18. 11works (pl. works) [countable + singular or plural verb] (often in compounds) a place where things are made or industrial processes take place an engineering works a brickworks Raw materials were carried to the works by barge. Synonymsfactoryplant mill works yard workshop foundryThese are all words for buildings or places where things are made or where industrial processes take place.factory a building or group of buildings where goods are made:a chocolate/​cigarette/​clothing factoryplant a factory or place where power is produced or an industrial process takes place:a nuclear power plant a manufacturing plantmill a factory that produces a particular type of material:a cotton/​paper/​textile/​woollen millworks (often in compounds) a place where things are made or an industrial process takes place:a brickworks a steelworks Raw materials were carried to the works by barge.yard (usually in compounds) an area of land used for building something:a shipyardworkshop a room or building in which things are made or repaired using tools or machinery:a car repair workshopfoundry a factory where metal or glass is melted and made into different shapes or objects:an iron foundryPatterns a car/​chemical/​munitions factory/​plant an engineering plant/​works to manage/​run a factory/​plant/​mill/​works/​yard/​workshop/​foundry to work in/​at a factory/​plant/​mill/​yard/​workshop/​foundry factory/​mill/​foundry owners/​managers/​workers
  19. parts of machine
  20. 12the works [plural] the moving parts of a machine, etc. synonym mechanism
  21. everything
  22. 13the works [plural] (informal) everything We went to the chip shop and had the works: fish, chips, gherkins, mushy peas.
  23. physics
  24. 14 [uncountable] the use of force to produce movement see also joule
  25. 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 ‘Where’s Diane?’ ‘She’s at work.’ A contraflow is in operation at the works near Junction 5. A hundred grand for two days a week? Nice work if you can get it! A love of landscape informs all his work. All the construction work was carried out in 2001. All these visitors make a lot of work for me. Ambulance crews alternate between emergency and routine work. An independent report has described some work practices in the industry as old-fashioned. Beethoven composed his greatest works in the latter part of his life. Big football matches make a lot of work for the police. Children can learn good work habits at school. During the college vacations he does casual work in the local hospital. Employees must not make personal calls during work hours. Engine maintenance is dirty work. Full-time work is hard to find. He did pioneering work on microbes. He does mainly commissioned portrait works. He got laid off, so now he’s looking for work again. He has done the grunt work= the hard, boring part of a task, sifting through thousands of official records. He has some freelance work at the moment. He hasn’t been in regular work since he left school. He preferred to make his money from honest work rather than from gambling. He’s been hard at work all morning. He’s been out of work since the factory closed. He’s doing a month’s unpaid work experience with an engineering company. He’s got a bit of freelance work at the moment. He’s willing to do extra work to get the project finished on time. Her book is still considered the definitive work on beetles. Her boss told her she had to increase her work rate. Her job is to manage the company’s work flow. Her latest novel is a work of genius. Her portfolio includes published works in several magazines. Her work appears at the Museum of Contemporary Art this summer. Her work can be seen in most of the major European galleries. Her work consists of drawing up and coordinating schedules. High income tax can undermine work incentives. His written work is the best in the class. How much will the work cost? How’s the work going this morning? I did the donkey work but I hired a professional builder for the tricky bits. I did the donkey work= hard work requiring little skill but I hired a professional for the hard part. I go to work by bus. I had lots of work to do. I have to do some work on the car before it’ll be ready. I met him through work. I need to wear glasses for close work. I really appreciate all your hard work. I think I’d better try and get some work done. I’m lucky - I love my work. I’ve got lots of work to do today. I’ve taken on more work than I have time to do. In accepting the award, she mentioned the sterling work of her assistants. Is this all your own work= did you do it without help from others? It doesn’t require skill - it’s a matter of sheer hard work. It was an interesting piece of work. It will take a month to clear the backlog of work. It’s hard work trying to get him to do a few things for himself. It’s important to be happy in your work. It’s piece work, so how much you earn depends on how fast you can work. Just before he was sixty, he decided to give up work. Many unemployed people welcome the chance to do purposeful work, even if unpaid. Mike made short work of fixing the engine. Nice work, James! I’m impressed. Over the next two years, the company is putting on the complete works of Brecht. People are using file-sharing to steal copyrighted works. People went about their daily work despite the war. Picasso’s mature works Pressure of work forced him to cancel his holiday. Sales reps meet up monthly to coordinate their work. Scotland’s biggest water treatment works She has just returned to work after the birth of her child. She is now looking for paid work outside the home. She never does a stroke of work. She stops work at the end of this month. She’s been off work with a bad back since July. She’s done a lot of work with disadvantaged children. She’s only allowed to do a little light work because of her bad arm. She’s put in a lot of work on the design. She’s studying the theme of death in the works of Beckett. Small children make a lot of work for their parents. Some mothers of young children choose not to go out to work. Stop talking and get down to work. That work can wait until tomorrow. The art collection was his life’s work. The assistant manager supervises work on the factory floor. The building is hated by some and considered a work of art by others. The construction company has three work crews of five men each. The drugs gang used children to do their dirty work for them. The finished work will be on view in the city art gallery. The gallery is staging a special exhibition of Monet’s early works. The hotel manager thanked the staff and told them to keep up the good work. The hotel manager thanked the staff for their efforts so far and told them to keep up the good work. The instructor’s work load was becoming increasingly heavy. The new president spent the first year undoing the work of his predecessor. The opportunities will depend on your work experience. The poorly designed bridge needs remedial work to make it safe. The report is the joint work of an economist and a sociologist. The research institute needs funds in order to carry on its valuable work. The scandal was revealed after months of undercover work by journalists. The show is the product of two years’ intensive work. The showroom has been designed so that people can see work in progress. The smell is believed to have originated from the sewage works. The town hall is exhibiting works by local artists. The work comes in bursts according to the time of year. The work represents a synthesis of the natural and the artificial. The works at Bury turned out thousands of television sets a week. The works will continue until the end of July. These paintings are more abstract than her previous work. They began work on the project last year. They began work on the project towards the end of the year. They discovered that his CV was a complete work of fiction. They employ a couple of young men to do the heavy work. They lost the work to a competitor. They think that caring for children is women’s work. Through their tireless work, they proved his innocence. To carry out accurate market research requires a huge amount of work. We are planning to carry out major works on the site. We get far too much work at this time of year. We give grants to support the work of voluntary organizations. We had a party at work. We set to work on the outside of the house. We’re going to have some building work done on the house. We’re supposed to hand in this work tomorrow. What does the work involve? What time do you finish work? What time does work start in the morning? With so much unemployment, I’m lucky to be in work. Work came to a complete halt in the summer. Work came to a complete standstill when rumours of redundancies started to circulate. Work on the project was halted. Work produced on a computer tends to look more professional. Work surfaces should be left clear and clean. Work’s going well at the moment. a work by an unknown 18th-century writer a work consisting of twelve small blank canvases a work entitled ‘Forward Pass’ a work entitled ‘The Sacrifice’ classroom activities involving collaborative work between children the collected works of Stephen King the night shift at the works ‘Where’s John?’ ‘He’s still at work.’ All non-EU citizens need a work permit in order to get a job. Any kind of work with kids would suit him fine. Chopin’s piano works He loves his work as a stage manager. He’s been out of work for over a year. I go to work at 8 o’clock. I’m looking for any kind of construction work. It is a country where most women with young children are in paid work. It’s very difficult to find work at the moment. Let’s get to work. She earned her grades through sheer hard work. She’s an artist whose work I really admire. She’s been off work for three weeks. She’s planning to return to work in September. State inspectors have cast doubt on claims of shoddy work on the new Bay Bridge. Students do work experience in local firms. The book is a detailed and thorough piece of work. The degree show gives students a chance to exhibit their work in central London. The film is based on an early work by Alan Moore. The new legislation concerns health and safety at work. We started work on the project in 2002. What kind of work experience do you have? What time do you knock off work tonight? When do you leave for work? Would you give up work if you won the lottery? works of fiction/​literatureIdioms part of your normal working life and not unusual
    all work and no play (makes Jack a dull boy)
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    (saying) it is not healthy to spend all your time working; you need to relax too
    1. 1  having an effect on something She suspected that secret influences were at work.
    2. 2  at work (on something) busy doing something He is still at work on the painting. Danger—men at work.
    the devil makes work for idle hands
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    (saying) people who do not have enough to do often start to do wrong She blamed the crimes on the local jobless teenagers. ‘The devil makes work for idle hands,’ she would say.
    (do somebody’s) dirty work
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    (to do) the unpleasant or dishonest jobs that somebody else does not want to do Next time you can get somebody else to do your dirty work for you!
    get (down) to/set to work
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     to begin; to make a start We set to work on the outside of the house (= for example, painting it).
    give somebody the works
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    (informal) to give or tell somebody everything
    to do/start to do your work She went cheerfully about her work. kind acts to help others (informal) to be likely to have difficulty doing something You'll have your work cut out to get there by nine o'clock. something that is in the works is being discussed, planned or prepared and will happen or exist soon synonym in the pipeline (British English, old-fashioned or formal) work that you are paid to do or that must be done There was a job of work waiting for him that he was not looking forward to.
    make hard work of something
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    to use more time or energy on a task than is necessary
    make light work of something
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    to do something quickly and with little effort
    make short work of something/somebody
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    to defeat, deal with something/somebody quickly Liverpool made short work of the opposition (= in a football/ soccer game). He made short work of his lunch (= ate it quickly).
    many hands make light work
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    (saying) used to say that a job is made easier if a lot of people help
    (British English, informal) a person who is unpleasant, unkind or dishonest Don’t trust him; he’s a nasty piece of work. (informal, especially British English) used to show you are pleased when somebody has done something well You did a good job today. Nice work, James!
    nice work if you can get it
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    (informal) used when you wish that you had somebody’s success or good luck and think they have achieved it with little effort He was paid £200 for a ten-minute speech? Nice work if you can get it.
    (throw) a spanner in the works (British English) (North American English (throw) a (monkey) wrench in the works)
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    (to cause) a delay or problem with something that somebody is planning or doing
    too much like hard work
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    needing too much effort I can't be bothered making a hot meal—it's too much like hard work.
    the work of a moment, second, etc.
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    (formal) a thing that takes a very short time to do It was the work of a few minutes to hide the damage.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: work