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work - definition and synonyms


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verb work pronunciation in British English /wɜː(r)k/
Word Forms
present tense
present participleworking
past tenseworked
past participleworked
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  1. 1
    [intransitive] to spend time trying to achieve something, especially when this involves using a lot of effort
    I’ve been working in the garden all day.
    work on: Our thanks go to everybody who has worked on this project.
    work to do something: He worked tirelessly to improve safety conditions in the mines.
    1. a.
      [transitive] to make someone work
      She always works us too hard.
    2. b.
      [intransitive] to produce a picture or create an object using a particular type of substance
      work in/with: He works in oils and acrylics, painting mostly landscapes.
  2. 2
    [intransitive] to have a job, usually one that you are paid to do
    Dominic works part-time.
    work in: I hope to work in marketing when I’m older.
    work as: She worked as a journalist.
    work with: All our nursery nurses are qualified to work with children.
    work for: She works for a big law firm in the city.
  3. 3
    [intransitive] to operate in a satisfactory way
    The new telephone system seems to be working perfectly.
    This pen doesn’t work.
    My brain’s not working very well today.
    1. a.
      [transitive] to operate something such as a machine or piece of equipment
      I don’t know how to work this thing.
  4. 4
    [intransitive] to succeed
    If this plan doesn’t work, we’ll think of something else.
    The strategy seems to be working.
    1. a.
      to have a particular effect or result
      The drug works by blocking the spread of the virus.
      Her dazzling performance worked its magic on the audience (=had a good effect on them).
      work for/against someone (=have a good/bad result): Criticizing your former employer works against you in an interview.
      work in someone’s favour/work to someone’s advantage (=be an advantage to someone): The exchange rate is currently working in the company’s favour.
  5. 5
    [intransitive/transitive] to move gradually from one position to another
    The strap of one of her sandals had worked itself loose.
    1. a.
      [transitive] to put something into a different position or state
      She managed to work one hand free.
      work yourself into something: He was slowly working himself into a panic.


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