Topic: MATHS

Language: Old English
Origin: wyrcan


1 verb
work1 S1 W1

do a job for money

[intransitive] to do a job that you are paid for:
Where do you work?
Many young people in the area have never worked.
The injury means he'll probably never work again.
work for
He works for a law firm.
work at/in
I work at the university.
work as
She works as a consultant for a design company.
work in industry/education/publishing etc
The studies were undertaken by people working in education.
work part-time/full-time
I work part-time in a library.

do your job

[intransitive and transitive] to do the activities and duties that are part of your job:
Sally isn't working tomorrow.
Staff will have to get used to a new way of working.
work with
One of the women I work with is getting married this weekend.
work under somebody (=have someone who is in charge of you)
Each site has a fully trained team who work under a site manager.
work days/nights/weekends etc
I get paid more if I work nights.
We're sometimes expected to work twelve-hour days.
Are you working late (=working after the time you usually finish) again tonight?
Forty police officers are working round the clock (=working day and night without stopping) to find Murray's killer.
Nowadays, many people are able to work from home.


[intransitive] if you work with someone or a group of people, your job involves trying to help them
work with/among
She's just retired after 38 years working with children.
He has worked among some of the world's poorest people.

do an activity

[intransitive] to spend time and effort doing something:
I've been working in the garden all afternoon.
I'm going to have to work really hard to pass these exams.
We're working together to develop a new system.

try to achieve something

[intransitive] to try continuously to achieve a particular thing
work towards
They are working towards a solution to their problems.
work for
We will work for the release of the hostages.
work to do something
The police are working to provide more help for victims of crime.
The company is working hard to improve its image.
He worked tirelessly (=worked very hard in a determined way) for the charity throughout his life.


a) [intransitive] if a machine or piece of equipment works, it does what it is supposed to do:
You should check that the smoke alarm is working properly.
The delete key doesn't work.
get something to work
I can't get the heater to work.
b) [transitive] to make a machine or piece of equipment do what it is supposed to do:
My parents can't even work the video.

be effective/successful

[intransitive] to be effective or successful:
Making a marriage work can take a lot of effort.
I've never found a diet that works.
The recipe works just as well if you use margarine instead of butter.
The cream works immediately to relieve sore skin.
work for
You need to find which method works best for you.
work against
a drug that works against some types of cancer

have an effect

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if something such as a fact, situation, or system works in a particular way, it has a particular effect on someone or something:
The arrangement works well for everyone involved.
The French team are the heavier crew, which should work in their favour (=help them).
Sexism still works against (=harms or causes problems for) women in many professions.


[intransitive] if a painting, design, piece of writing etc works, it is successful because it has the effect on you that the painter, writer etc intended:
I don't think the scene with the horses really works, do you?
work for
The colour combination just doesn't work for me.

shape/cut something

[transitive]TIC if you work a material such as metal, leather, or clay, you cut, sew, or shape it in order to make something

use a substance

[intransitive]TIC to use a particular material or substance in order to make something such as a picture, design, jewellery etc
work in/with
a sculptor who works in steel
a jeweller who works with silver

work your way to/through etc something

a) to move somewhere slowly and with difficulty:
From here, we worked our way carefully across the rock base.
b) to achieve something gradually by working:
He had worked his way up to head of department.

work your way through school/college/university etc

to do a job while you are a student because you need the money to pay for your courses, books etc

move gradually

[intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition] 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.


[transitive] to use and exercise a muscle or part of your body:
Swimming is a form of exercise that works every muscle in your body.


[intransitive and transitive] formal if a part of your body works or you work it, it moves:
She was trembling and her mouth was working.

work in an area

[transitive] if you work a particular area or type of place, you travel around the area for your job, or work in that type of place:
Markowitz works the Tri-State area.

work the door

to take tickets from people as they enter a club, theatre etc:
Binns worked the door at various Manhattan clubs.

entertain a crowd

[transitive] if an entertainer or politician works a crowd of people, they entertain them and get their interest or support:
She really knew how to work a crowd.


[transitive]TAC if you work the land, soil etc, you do all the work necessary to grow crops on it:
He was left to work the farm alone.


[transitive]TI to remove a substance such as coal, gold, or oil from under the ground

work like magic/work like a charm

also work a treat British English to be very effective:
a polish that works a treat on windows


[intransitive] if your mind or brain is working, you are thinking or trying to solve a problem

work on the principle/assumption/basis etc that

to base ideas, plans etc on a particular fact that you think is true:
We're working on the assumption that the conference will take place in Canada, as planned.

work yourself into a frenzy/panic/state etc

to make yourself become very nervous, angry etc:
He seemed to be working himself into a rage.

work it/things

spoken to make arrangements for something to happen, especially by behaving in a clever or skilful way:
We should try and work it so that we can all go together.

work the system

to understand how a system works so that you can get advantages for yourself, often in a slightly dishonest way:
Lynn could show the rest of us how to work the system.

work somebody hard

also work somebody into the ground informal to make someone work very hard:
The coach has been working us really hard this week.
People have complained that they are being worked into the ground.
work yourself into the ground
I've worked myself into the ground setting up this interview.

work your fingers to the bone

also work your socks off informal to work very hard

work your butt/ass/arse off

not polite to work very hard


[transitive] American English formalHM to calculate the answer to a mathematical problem

work to rule

British EnglishBEL to protest about a situation at work by doing your job slowly, with the excuse that you must obey all the rules exactly

It works for me

spoken used to say that something is very suitable for you and does exactly what you wanted or expected:
I meditate and do Yoga every day. It works for me and I think it could work for you too.

➔ work wonders

at wonder2 (4)

; ➔ work miracles

at miracle (4)

; ➔ work your magic

at magic1 (5)

work around somebody/something

phrasal verb
to arrange or organize something so that you avoid problems that may stop you from doing something:
John won't be here on the 15th so we'll have to work round that.

work around to something

phrasal verb
to gradually mention a subject in a conversation or piece of writing, especially because it is embarrassing:
You'll have to work round to the subject gradually.

work at something

phrasal verb
to try hard to improve something or achieve something:
Learning a language isn't easy. You have to work at it.
work at doing something
couples who want to work at improving their relationship

work somebody/something in

phrasal verb

work something ↔ in

also work something into something to include something in a speech, piece of writing, activity etc:
He managed to work in a few references to his new book.
Here are a few goodies you can work into your daily diet.

work something ↔ in

also work something into something to add one substance to another and mix them together in a very thorough way:
Work the butter into the flour.
3 American English spoken to arrange to meet someone, even though you are very busy [= fit somebody in British English]
My schedule's pretty full, but I think I can work you in.

work something ↔ off

phrasal verb
1 to get rid of something, especially a feeling such as anger, nervousness etc, by doing something that uses a lot of your energy:
Walking is excellent for working off tension.
I need to go and work off a few of these calories.
2 to do a job for someone else because you owe them money or because they have helped you in the past:
She hasn't worked off her debts to me yet.

work on somebody/something

phrasal verb
1 to spend time working in order to produce or repair something:
He has spent the last two years working on a book about childcare.
Every weekend you see him working on his car.
2 to try very hard to improve or achieve something:
A trainer has been brought in to work on her fitness.
work on doing something
We need to work on ensuring that the children feel safe and confident.
3 to try continuously to influence someone or persuade them to do something:
You leave him to me. I'll work on him.

work out

phrasal verb


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 proposals.
work out what/where/how etc
We need to work out how we're going to get there.
I had it all worked out (=had made very careful plans).


work something ↔ out

to calculate an answer, amount, price etc:
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.


work something ↔ out

especially British English 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 something out for yourself
I'm sure you can work it out for yourself.


if a cost or amount works out at a particular figure, it is found to be that much when you calculate it
work out at/to £10/$500 etc
The bill works out at £15 each.
work out expensive/cheap etc (=be expensive or cheap)
If we go by taxi, it's going to work out very expensive.

get better

if a problem or complicated situation works out, it gradually gets better or gets solved:
Things will work out, you'll see.
I hope it all works out for Gina and Andy.
work itself out
I'm sure everything will work itself out.


if a situation works out in a particular way, it happens in that way [= turn out]
work out well/badly
Financially, things have worked out well for us.


to make your body fit and strong by doing exercises:
He works out with weights twice a week.

I can't work somebody out

British English spoken used to say that you cannot understand what someone is really like or why they behave in the way they do:
I couldn't work her out at all.

be worked out

TI if a mine is worked out, all the coal, gold etc has been removed from it

work somebody over

phrasal verb
to attack someone by hitting them several times

work through

phrasal verb

work something ↔ through

to deal with problems or unpleasant feelings:
After someone dies, it can take a long time to work though your grief.
2 if the result or effect of something works through, it becomes noticeable:
The positive effect on businesses may take up to three years to work through.

work up

phrasal verb

work up enthusiasm/interest/courage etc

to make yourself feel interested, brave etc:
I'm trying to work up enough courage to go to the dentist.

work up an appetite/a thirst/a sweat

to make yourself hungry or thirsty, or make yourself sweat, especially by doing physical exercise:
You can work up a really big thirst playing tennis.

work somebody up

to make someone very angry, excited, or upset about something
work yourself up
You're working yourself up again.
She had worked herself up into a state.
worked up

work something ↔ up

to develop and improve something such as a project or a piece of writing:
Jack took notes which he would work up into a report later.

work up to something

phrasal verb
to gradually prepare yourself to do something difficult
work up to doing something
He'd been working up to asking her for a date all week.

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