1 verb DO A JOB
1 (I) to do a job that you are paid for: Harry is 78, and still working.
(+ for): David works for the BBC. | work as a secretary/builder etc: She works as a management consultant for a design company. | work long hours/nights etc: There's no way I'm working Sundays.
2 (I, T) to do the activities and duties that are part of your job: Sally isn't working tomorrow. | I'm tired of working ten-hour days.
3 HELP (intransitive + with) if you work with someone or a group of people, your job involves trying to help them: Jane works with deaf children.
4 AREA (T) to travel around a particular area as part of your job, especially in order to sell something: Markowitz works the Tri-State area.
5 (I) to do an activity which needs time and effort, especially one that you want to do or that needs to be done: Dad's been working all day in the garden. | We had to work non-stop to get everything ready for the party.
(+ on): Whenever I get the time we go out to the camp and work on it. (+ at): Juan's English isn't very good, but he works at it.
6 STUDY (I) BrE to study a subject by reading books, doing exercises etc, especially in order to pass an exam: You'll have to work really hard if you want to pass your exams.
7 work sb hard (T) to make someone use a lot of time or effort when doing a job or activity: The coach has been working us really hard this week.
8 (I) to try continuously and patiently to achieve a particular thing
(+ for): a life spent working for peace and justice | work to do sth: We worked hard to persuade the French to attend the meeting. | work tirelessly (=work hard): an organization that works tirelessly on behalf of the poor | work your passage (=to work instead of paying for a journey) MATERIAL/SUBSTANCE
9 (T) if you work a material such as metal, leather, or clay you cut, sew, or shape it in order to make something
10 (I) to use a particular material or substance in order to make something such as a picture, design, jewellery etc
(+ in/with): a sculptor who works in steel | a jeweller who works with silver
11 LAND/SOIL (T) if you work the land or the soil, you do all the work necessary to grow crops on it
12 MINE (T) if you work a mine you remove a substance such as coal, gold, or oil from it
a) (I) if a machine or piece of equipment works, it does what it is supposed to do: The remote control doesn't work. | Damn! The TV's not working again.
b) (T) to make a complicated machine or piece of equipment do what it is supposed to do: Does anyone know how to work the microwave?
14 (I) if a method, plan, or system works, it produces the results you want: What do you think of Jill's suggestion? Will it work? | The recipe works just as well if you use margarine instead of butter. | I told Mum I was too sick to go to school, but it didn't work.
15 work like magic/like a charm if a plan, method, or trick works like magic or like a charm, it happens in exactly the way you planned it to happen
16 ART/LITERATURE if a painting, film, piece of writing etc works, it is successful artistically because it has the effect on you that its maker intended: I don't think the scene where the family is seated around the table really works, do you?
17 MEDICINE/TREATMENT (I) if a medicine or medical treatment works, it has the physical effect you want it to have: The antibiotics will only work if you take them every day for ten days.
18 HAVE AN EFFECT (intransitive always + adv/prep) if something such as a fact, situation, or system works in particular way, it has a particular effect on someone or something: work in sb's favour (=help someone): The fact that you went to the same school should work in your favour. | work against sb (=harm someone or cause them problems): Tax laws tend to work against small organizations.
19 (intransitive always + adv/prep, transitive always + adv/prep) to move into a particular state or position very gradually, either in a series of small movements or after a long time: Slowly he worked the screwdriver into the crack. | work (its way) loose: One of the screws must have worked loose.
20 (I, T) if a part of your body works or you work it, it moves: work sth: He tried to work his face into a smile.
21 work your way if you work your way somewhere, you go there slowly and with great effort: Although exhausted, he managed to work his way up the last few feet of rock.
22 (T) to operate a machine or piece of equipment: How do you work the zoom lens on the camera?
23 MIND/BRAIN (I) if your mind or brain is working, you are thinking or trying to solve a problem
24 work yourself into a state/rage/frenzy etc to make yourself become very excited, upset or angry: You could tell he was working himself into a panic about it.
25 work wonders to be surprisingly effective in dealing with a difficult problem or situation: Try rubbing salt on it. It can work wonders with stains.
26 work it/things spoken to make arrangements for something to happen, especially by acting in a clever or skilful way: We should try and work it so that we can all go together.
27 work your fingers to the bone informal to work very hard
28 beer/wine (I) technical to ferment 1
29 CALCULATE (T) AmE formal to calculate the answer to a mathematical problem
30 work to rule BrE to protest about a situation at work by doing your job slowly with the excuse that you must obey all the rules exactly
work sth in phrasal verb (T)
1 to add one substance to another and mix them together in a very thorough way: work sth into sth: Work the butter into the flour with your fingers.
2 to include something you want to say or do while you are doing or saying something else: Do you think you can work in a reference to our project? | work sth into sth: The minister will try and work a visit to hospital into his schedule.
work sth off phrasal verb (T) to try to get rid of a feeling such as anger, disappointment, embarrassment, especially by being unpleasant to other people or behaving violently: I'm sorry about all the yelling, it was Terry trying to work off his frustration. work on phrasal verb (T)
1 (work on something) to spend time making or fixing something: Ken was working on some sets for an opera at the Met. | I worked all night on that article.
2 to try continuously to influence someone or persuade them to do something: work on sb to do sth: My parents spent the weekend working on me to go on holiday with them.
work out phrasal verb
1 CALCULATE (transitive work something out) to calculate an answer, amount, price, or value: You can work out the answer by adding all the numbers. | See if you can work this bill out. | work out how much/how many etc: We'll have to work out how much food we'll need for the party.
2 UNDERSTAND especially BrE (transitive work something out) to think about something and manage to understand it: The plot is very complicated, it'll take you a while to work it out. | work sth out for yourself: I'm not telling you the answer - work it out for yourself.
3 (intransitive, linking verb + adj) if something works out at a particular amount, you calculate that it costs that amount: work out at/to -10/$500 etc: The bill works out at -15 each. | work out expensive/costly/cheap etc (=be expensive or cheap): If we go by taxi, it's going to work out very expensive.
4 PLAN (transitive work something out) to think carefully about how you are going to do something and plan a good way of doing it: UN negotiators have worked out a set of compromise proposal. | work out what/where/how etc: I haven't worked out who's going to look after the kids tonight. | have it all worked out (=have completely planned how you are going to do something): Listen, I've got it all worked out. Here's what we should do.
5 GET BETTER (I, T) if a problem or complicated situation works out, it gradually gets better or gets solved: Ken and Ella had loads of problems when they first got married, but things worked out in the end. | I hope it all works out between Gina and Andy. | work itself out: I know you're not happy with things right now, but I'm sure everything will work itself out.
6 HAPPEN if a situation works out in a particular way, it happens in that way: work out well/badly: Financially, things have worked out very well for us.
7 I can't work sb out spoken an expression meaning you cannot understand someone's behaviour: I can't work Geoff out, one day he's friendly the next day he ignores me completely.
8 EXERCISE (I) to make your body fit and strong, especially by doing a programme of exercises regularly: He works out with weights twice a week.
9 be worked out if a mine is worked out, all the coal, gold etc has been removed from it
work sb over phrasal verb (T) informal to hit someone hard and repeatedly all over their body work sb/sth up phrasal verb
1 work up enthusiasm/interest/courage etc to become enthusiastic or interested etc: I'm trying to work up enough courage to go to the dentist.
2 work up an appetite/thirst to make yourself hungry or thirsty, especially by doing physical exercise or waiting a long time before you eat or drink: You can work up a really big thirst playing tennis.
3 to make someone very angry, excited, or upset about something: work yourself up: Paula has worked herself up into a complete state about the exam.
4 to develop and improve a skill or a piece of writing: Jack took notes which he would work up into a report later.
work up to sth phrasal verb (T) to prepare yourself to do something that you do not want to do by gradually making yourself more and more determined to do it: I haven't told Carmela I don't want to go, I'm still working up to it. 2 noun
1 (U) a job you are paid to do or an activity that you do regularly to earn money: My father started work when he was 14. | The work is interesting and well paid. | There isn't a lot of work at this time of the year. | be in work/out of work (=have or not have a job) | look for work/find work: Anne left college a year ago and she's still looking for work. | He eventually found work on a construction site. | return to work (=start work again after a long period of time): Dawn didn't return to work until the kids had started school. | after/before work (=after or before you start work each day) | sb's line of work (=the kind of work someone does): In my line of work we use a lot of heavy equipment - back-hoes, things like that.
—see job
2 PLACE (U) a place where you do your job, which is not your home: He left work at the usual time. | I'll see you at work tomorrow. | be at work (=be working at your job at a place which is not your home): My Dad's at work.
3 DUTIES (U) the duties and activities that are part of your job: What kind of work are you looking for? | A large part of the work we do involves using computers. | secretarial/legal/bar etc work: I've been working in the field for 6 years, and would like a chance at some museum work. | voluntary work (=work that you do not get paid for)
4 RESULT (U) something that you produce as a result of doing your job or doing an activity: Send a résumé and example of your work. | piece of work: This report really is an excellent piece of work.
5 USEFUL ACTIVITY (U) the act of doing something that needs to be done or that you want to do, or the time and effort needed to do it: Ted's done a lot of work on the car. | The house must have taken a lot of work. | Come on - hard work never hurt anyone. | get down to work (=start doing work): We decided to watch TV for a while before getting down to work.
6 STUDY (U) study or research, especially for a particular purpose: He did his postgraduate work in Sociology. | Limited work was carried out on subjects between the ages of 16 and 20.
7 at work
a) doing your job or a particular activity: Danger - men at work.
b) having a particular influence or effect: Listen to her voice, you can hear her operatic training at work.
8 BOOK/PAINTING/MUSIC (C) something such as a book, play, painting, or piece of music produced by a writer, painter, or musician: the Collected Works of Shakespeare | Thirty-five Old Master works will be on loan from the Met.
9 the (whole) works spoken everything: “What would you like - eggs, bacon, sausages, fries?” “ The works.”
10 nice work/quick work spoken used to praise someone for doing something well or quickly: The last image flickered on the screen and I turned to Herb and said `Nice work!'
11 works
a) old-fashioned a building or group of buildings in which goods are produced in large quantities or an industrial process happens: ironworks/gasworks/cement works: The brick works closed last year.
b) the activity involved in building something on a large scale: engineering works/irrrigaton works/roadworks: the official in charge of the engineering works
12 it's all in a day's work spoken used to say that you do not mind doing something even though it will give you more work than usual.
13 sb will have his/her work cut out informal it will be very difficult for someone to do something: Dad and Sam will have their work cut out for them trying to calm her down.
14 the works the moving parts of a machine
15 (U) technical force multiplied by distance
—see also: clerk of works, do sb's dirty work dirty 1 (7), make short work of sth short 1 (8), public works

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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