Definition of clockwork in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkläkˌwərk/


A mechanism with a spring and toothed gearwheels, used to drive a mechanical clock, toy, or other device.
Example sentences
  • Of inventions which proved to have major significance, only the lens and clockwork travelled in the opposite direction, eastwards across Eurasia.
  • My mother was like the evil clockwork of some kind of villainous clock gone haywire.
  • Loves are lost, hearts are broken, games become mere clockwork, and his passion dies.


1Driven by clockwork: a clockwork motor a clockwork toy
More example sentences
  • They were real passions, and at first I thought ‘hey, wouldn't it be good to use the Internet to trade clockwork tin toys’.
  • Danielle jumped up and down and clapped her hands above her head like a clockwork toy gone haywire.
  • The baroque churches are glorious, chocolate-box designs, as playful and loveable as the clockwork stars of Toccata for Toy Trains.
1.1Very smooth and regular: the clockwork precision of the galaxy
More example sentences
  • Their bodies seemed like a temple for artistic expression that gestured and moved with clockwork precision.
  • With clockwork precision 50 women completed it in 10.42 hours.
  • He performed a few feats with clockwork precision.
1.2Repetitive and predictable: it was a clockwork existence for the children
More example sentences
  • Jolted by a mugging into the feeling that he is leading a clockwork, incomplete existence, Walker subsequently walks out on his spouse.
  • Children slept in dormitories, they ate together in silence, and they lived their days to a clockwork routine which never varied.
  • Kant's private life is often parodied as one of clockwork routine, fastidious, donnish, and self-centred.



as regular as clockwork

Very regularly; repeatedly and predictably.
Example sentences
  • The comedic cut scenes are as regular as clockwork and often as predictable.
  • A new generation comes through as regular as clockwork.
  • The customers who voted for him said he is as regular as clockwork.

like clockwork

Very smoothly and easily: the event ran like clockwork
More example sentences
  • Everything that he organised was spot-on and ran like clockwork.
  • Everything ran like clockwork for the Irish fivesome who had to quickly move on to launches in Belfast, Edinburgh, Manchester and London.
  • A picnic atmosphere prevailed and thankfully everything ran like clockwork, even with a huge entry of over 200 competitors.
2.1With mechanical regularity: these hens lay like clockwork
More example sentences
  • I hadn't seen Matt in a while, but his phone-calls were regular like clockwork, or had been until a week ago.
  • But at SRC, we've built a system of mechanisms that makes innovation happen like clockwork.
  • But last night the many city residents who nominated the man who has kept Hull's timepieces running like clockwork for 40 years, declared ‘it's about time’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: clock·work

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