Share this entry


Synonyms of work in English:


  • 1 he was tired after a day's work in the fields
    labour, toil, exertion, effort, slog, drudgery, the sweat of one's brow;
    British informalgraft, fag
    Australian/New Zealand informalyakka
    archaictravail, moil
    [Antonyms] leisure, rest
  • 2 his work takes him to France, Spain, and Germany
    employment, job, day job, post, position, situation, means of earning one's living, occupation, profession, career, business, trade, line;
  • 3 haven't you got any work to do?
  • 4 one of the best works of modern English literature
    composition, piece, creation, achievement, accomplishment;
    work of art, opus, oeuvre
  • 5 the shooting was the work of a radical left-wing group
    handiwork, doing, act, deed, feat, performance
  • 6 (works) a lifetime spent doing good works
  • 7 (works) the complete works of Shakespeare
    writings, oeuvre, canon, output
  • 8 (works) the site of a former car works
    factory, plant, manufacturing complex, mill, foundry, yard, industrial unit, business unit;
  • 9 (works) the works of a clock
    mechanism, machinery, workings, working parts, parts, movement, action
    informalinnards, insides
  • 10 (the works) informal for only $60 you can get the works
    everything, the full treatment
    informaleverything but the kitchen sink, the lot, the whole shooting match, the whole (kit and) caboodle, the whole shebang, the whole nine yards
    British informalthe full monty
    North American informalthe whole ball of wax
  • verb

    Back to top  
  • 1 staff worked late into the night to make the necessary repairs
    informalslog (away), beaver away, plug away, peg away, put one's back into something, work one's guts out, work one's socks off, knock oneself out, sweat blood, kill oneself
    British informalgraft, fag
    Australian/New Zealand informalbullock
    British vulgar slangwork one's balls/arse off
    North American vulgar slangwork one's ass/butt off
    archaicdrudge, travail, moil
    [Antonyms] rest, play
  • 2 Taylor has worked in education for 17 years
    be employed, have a job, earn one's living, hold down a job, do business, follow/ply one's trade
  • 3 many farmers had given up working the land
  • 4 Dino's car was now working perfectly
    be in working order
  • 5 she showed me how to work the ice-cream machine
    operate, use, handle, control, manipulate, manoeuvre, drive, run, direct;
  • 6 their desperate ploy had worked
    succeed, be successful, work out, turn out well, go as planned, have the desired result, get results;
    be effective, take effect, be efficacious
    informalcome off, pay off, do the trick, do the business
    North American informalturn the trick
    [Antonyms] fail
  • 7 with a dash of blusher you can work miracles
    bring about, accomplish, achieve, produce, do, perform, carry out, implement, execute, create, engender, contrive, effect
  • 8 informal the chairman was prepared to work it for Philip if he was interested
    arrange, manipulate, manoeuvre, contrive;
    North American pull wires
    informalfix, swing, wangle, fiddle
  • 9 he worked the crowd into a frenzy
    stir (up), excite, drive, move, spur, rouse, fire, galvanize;
    whip up, inflame, incite, agitate
  • 10 work the mixture into a paste
    knead, squeeze, form, shape, fashion, mould, model;
    mix, stir, blend
  • 11 he worked the blade into the padlock
    manoeuvre, manipulate, negotiate, guide, edge
  • 12 Bella's mouth worked furiously for a few seconds
    twitch, quiver, twist, move spasmodically, convulse
  • 13 John had worked his way through the crowd
    manoeuvre, make, thread, wind, weave
  • Phrases

    work on someone

    leave him to me—I'll work on him
    persuade, manipulate, influence, sway, put pressure on, lean on;
    coax, cajole, wheedle, soften up
    informaltwist someone's arm, put the squeeze on

    work out

  • 1 the bill works out at £50
    British tot up to
  • 2 I'm glad my idea worked out
    succeed, be successful, work, turn out well, go as planned, get results, be effective
    informalcome off, pay off, do the trick, do the business
    [Antonyms] fail
  • 3 things didn't quite work out the way she had planned
    end up, turn out, go, come out, develop, evolve, result;
    happen, occur
    informalpan out
  • 4 Bob keeps in shape by working out at the local gym
    exercise, do exercises, train
  • work something out

  • 1 work out how much you can afford to spend
    calculate, compute, reckon up, determine
  • 2 I'm still trying to work out what she meant
  • 3 they worked out a plan of action
    devise, formulate, draw up, put together, develop, prepare, construct, arrange, organize, plan, think up, contrive, concoct;
    hammer out, thrash out, reach an agreement on, negotiate
  • work someone over

    it looked like someone had worked him over to get him to say what they wanted him to say
    beat up, beat, attack, assault, knock about/around, maltreat, mistreat, abuse, batter, manhandle
    informaldo over, bash up, rough up, beat the living daylights out of
    British informalduff up
    North American informalbeat up on

    work something up

    he couldn't seem to work up any enthusiasm
    stimulate, rouse, raise, arouse, awaken, excite, build up, whet;
    develop, produce

    Word links

    ergophobia fear of work

    Choose the right word

    work, labour, toil
    Work is the general term for things that one has to do in order to earn a living or to achieve a particular aim ( she did clerical work before she married | work on landscaping the disused railway line was started in 1980). When applied to the actual doing of these things, work implies that effort is involved ( thank you for your hard work on the project). As a verb, the word means simply to carry out any kind of such activity ( a man was working in the garden).Labour typically denotes physical work, especially when this is hard and exhausting ( manual labour | exhausted by labour in the fields). To labour is to work hard ( they laboured from dawn to dusk) or to have difficulty in doing something in spite of working hard ( the media group is currently labouring to reduce its debt mountain).Toil, as a noun or a verb, refers to exhausting, tedious, and seemingly unending hard work ( most of the poet's life was spent in toil on the farm | the clerks sat toiling into the night over some urgent piece of business). To toil in a stated direction means to struggle to move somewhere ( she toiled up the path with her packages).

    Definition of work in:

    Share this entry


    What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

    Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

    Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

    Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources