to do a job that you are paid for:
do a job for money[intransitive]
Where do you work?
Many young people in the area have never worked.
The injury means he'll probably never work again.
He works for a law firm.
I work at the university.
She works as a consultant for a design company.
work in industry/education/publishing etc
The studies were undertaken by people working in education.
I work part-time in a library.
to do the activities and duties that are part of your job:
do your job[intransitive and transitive]
Sally isn't working tomorrow.
Staff will have to get used to a new way of working.
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.
if you work with someone or a group of people, your job involves trying to help them
She's just retired after 38 years working with children.
He has worked among some of the world's poorest people.
to spend time and effort doing something:
do an activity[intransitive]
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.
to try continuously to achieve a particular thing
try to achieve something[intransitive]
They are working towards a solution to their problems.
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.
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.
to make a machine or piece of equipment do what it is supposed to do:
My parents can't even work the video.
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.
You need to find which method works best for you.
a drug that works against some types of cancer
if something such as a fact, situation, or system works in a particular way, it has a particular effect on someone or something:
have an effect[intransitive always + adverb/preposition]
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.
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?
The colour combination just doesn't work for me.
if you work a material such as metal, leather, or clay, you cut, sew, or shape it in order to make something
to use a particular material or substance in order to make something such as a picture, design, jewellery etc
use a substance[intransitive]TIC
a sculptor who works in steel
a jeweller who works with silver
to move somewhere slowly and with difficulty:
From here, we worked our way carefully across the rock base.
to achieve something gradually by working:
He had worked his way up to head of department.
to do a job while you are a student because you need the money to pay for your courses, books etc
to move into a particular state or position very gradually, either in a series of small movements or after a long time:
move gradually[intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition]
Slowly he worked the screwdriver into the crack.
work (its way) loose
One of the screws must have worked loose.
to use and exercise a muscle or part of your body:
Swimming is a form of exercise that works every muscle in your body.
if a part of your body works or you work it, it moves:
move[intransitive and transitive] formal
She was trembling and her mouth was working.
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:
work in an area[transitive]
Markowitz works the Tri-State area.
to take tickets from people as they enter a club, theatre etc:
Binns worked the door at various Manhattan clubs.
if an entertainer or politician works a crowd of people, they entertain them and get their interest or support:
entertain a crowd[transitive]
She really knew how to work a crowd.
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.
to remove a substance such as coal, gold, or oil from under the ground
22 also work a treat British English
to be very effective:
a polish that works a treat on windows
if your mind or brain is working, you are thinking or trying to solve a problem
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.
to make yourself become very nervous, angry etc:
He seemed to be working himself into a rage.
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.
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.
28 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.
29 also work your socks off informal
to work very hard
30 not polite
to work very hard
to calculate the answer to a mathematical problem
calculate[transitive] American English formalHM
32 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
used to say that something is very suitable for you and does exactly what you wanted or expected:
It works for mespoken
I meditate and do Yoga every day. It works for me and I think it could work for you too.
work around somebody/somethingphrasal verb
John won't be here on the 15th so we'll have to work round that.
work around to somethingphrasal verb
You'll have to work round to the subject gradually.
work at somethingphrasal verb
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 inphrasal verb
1 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.
to add one substance to another and mix them together in a very thorough way:
work something ↔ inalso work something into something
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 ↔ offphrasal verb
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.
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/somethingphrasal verb
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.
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.
to try continuously to influence someone or persuade them to do something:
You leave him to me. I'll work on him.
work outphrasal verb
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).
to calculate an answer, amount, price etc:
work something ↔ out
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.
to think about something and manage to understand it:
work something ↔ outespecially British English
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.
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: ➔ workout
He works out with weights twice a week.
8 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.
if a mine is worked out, all the coal, gold etc has been removed from it
work somebody overphrasal verb
work throughphrasal verb
to deal with problems or unpleasant feelings:
After someone dies, it can take a long time to work though your grief.
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 upphrasal verb
to make yourself feel interested, brave etc:
I'm trying to work up enough courage to go to the dentist.
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.
to make someone very angry, excited, or upset about something ➔ worked up
work yourself up
You're working yourself up again.
She had worked herself up into a state.
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 somethingphrasal verb
work up to doing something
He'd been working up to asking her for a date all week.