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work, v.

Brit. /wəːk/
U.S. /wərkɑ/
Inflections:   Past tense and past participle worked
Brit. /wəːkt/
U.S. /wərkt/
, (chiefly archaic) wrought
Brit. /rɔːt/
U.S. /rɔt/
Forms:  1. Present stem.

α. eOE vvyrcan, OE uyrca (Northumbrian), OE wuirca (Northumbrian), OE wurcan (rare), OE wyrcan, OE wyrcean, OE wyrcgan (rare), OE wyrhcan (rare), OE wyrican (rare), OE wyricean (rare), OE wyrycan (rare), lOE wyrchan (Kentish), lOE wyrecan, eME wrch (perhaps transmission error), eME wrche, eME wuerche, eME wurce, ME wourche (south-western), ME (south-western)–15 wurch, ME (chiefly west midlands)–15 wurche.

eOE   Bald's Leechbk. (Royal) (1865) ii. li. 264   Heræfter sint lungenadla laðlicu tacn..& hu mon læcedomas wiþ þon wyrcean scyle.
OE (Northumbrian)   Lindisf. Gospels: Matt. xxi. 28   Uade hodie operare in uinea mea : gaa todæge wuirc in wingeard minne.
OE   West Saxon Gospels: Luke (Corpus Cambr.) xi. 45   Lareow, teonan þu wyrhcst us mid þisse sage.
OE   Ælfric Homily: De Duodecim Abusivis (Corpus Cambr. 178) in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 300   On manegum wisum man mæg wyrcan [a1225 Lamb. wurchen] ælmyssan.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 25   Ane wurcð wundræ ðurh his mihte.
a1225  (?a1200)    MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 41   Mid mede man mai ouer water faren, And mid weldede of giue frend wuerche.
c1275  (?a1216)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) 408   He wile of bore wrchen [a1300 Jesus Oxf. wurche] bareȝ.
a1400  (a1325)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Trin. Cambr.) (1887) App. XX. 845   Hi þoute wourche wo.
a1475  (?1445)    Lydgate Minor Poems (1911) i. 375   With feyth truly for to wurch.
?1548   J. Bale Comedy Thre Lawes Nature iv. sig. Dviij   In Gods seruyce, they honourablye wurche.

β. OE uirca (Northumbrian), OE vvircan (rare), OE wircan, OE wircean, lOE wirchan (Kentish), eME wirce, eME wyrcce, eME wyrce, eME wyrlce (transmission error), ME whirche, ME wirch, ME wirche, ME wyrch, ME–15 wyrche, lME which (transmission error), 15 wirtch.

eOE (Mercian)   Vespasian Psalter (1965) xiv. 2   Qui..operatur iustitiam : se..wirceð rehtwisnisse.
lOE   Canterbury Psalter vi. 9   Discedite a me omnes qui operamini iniquitatem : gewitæð from me eælle þæ þe unriht wirchað.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 67   Him ȝedafenode to wyrccenne his weorc.
c1275  (?a1216)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) 722   Clerkes ginneþ songes wirche.
c1330  (?a1300)    Sir Tristrem (1886) l. 38   Þat never þai no lan Þe pouer to wirche wo.
c1425   tr. J. Arderne Treat. Fistula (Sloane 6) (1910) 45   Þe place wher arsenek is putte in, if it wirch perfitely, shal bycome blo & bolned.
a1450   St. Edith (Faust.) (1883) l. 344   Elburwe þat religyose house let after whirche.
1509   H. Watson tr. S. Brant Shyppe of Fooles (de Worde) lxxxxv. sig. Aa.iiiv   In good operacyons loke ye wyrche.
1577   [implied in: R. Stanyhurst Treat. Descr. Irelande ii. f. 4v/1, in R. Holinshed Chron. I   Beyng moderately taken..it [sc. Aqua vitæ] kepeth..the belly from wirtchyng [at working n. 10].].

γ. eOE werð (Kentish, 3rd singular indicative, perhaps transmission error), OE weorcan (rare), OE weorcean (rare), OE wercan (rare), eME verhs (transmission error), eME weorce, eME weorche (south-western), eME werce, eME wereche (south-western), eME wrec (imperative, perhaps transmission error), ME werch, ME (15 in print of lost ME MS) werche.

OE   Blickling Homilies 67   Þu scealt on æghwylce tid Godes willan wercan.
OE   Monasteriales Indicia (1996) xxxi. 28   Lege þu þine swyðran hand under þin hleor and werc rodetacen on þin heofod foran.
OE   tr. Chrodegang of Metz Regula Canonicorum (Corpus Cambr. 191) xvii. 211   And þonne hi ne þurfon gemæne worc weorcean, wirce ælc sum þing þæs þe his agen neod sy.
c1175  (▸OE)    in A. O. Belfour 12th Cent. Homilies in MS Bodl. 343 (1909) 42   Weorcæð medemæ wæstmæs reowsungæ.
a1225  (▸OE)    Rule St. Benet (Winteney) (1888) vii. 33   We synd ȝelerede be ȝewyrhton, þæt we urne aȝene willan ne weorcean.
c1300  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Otho) (1963) 6071   Al ich wolle werechen after þine wille.
c1400  (a1376)    Langland Piers Plowman (Trin. Cambr. R.3.14) (1960) A. x. l. 75   Werche he wel oþer wrong, þe wyt is his owene.
1532  (c1385)    Usk's Test. Love in W. W. Skeat Chaucerian & Other Pieces (1897) 91   If fyr be in place chafinge thing able to be chafed..the oon may werche, the other shal suffre.

δ. eME wirrkenn ( Ormulum), ME wirc, ME wirck, ME wirkke, ME wrick, ME wrik, ME wryk, ME wyrc, ME wyrkk- (inflected form), ME–15 wirke, ME–15 wyrcke, ME–15 wyrk, ME–15 wyrke, ME–15 (18– English regional (Yorkshire)) wirk, lME wyke (transmission error); Scottish pre-17 virke, pre-17 vyrk, pre-17 wryk (perhaps transmission error), pre-17 wyirk, pre-17 wyrk, pre-17 wyrke, pre-17 17– wirk, pre-17 18 virk. In Middle English, chiefly northern and north midlands

?c1200   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 10118   To wirrkenn allmess werrkess.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 25251   Þi will to wirc.
a1450  (a1338)    R. Mannyng Chron. (Lamb.) (1887) i. 5001   Conseiled þem boþe to-gyder How þey schuld wyrke.
1487  (a1380)    J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) v. 488   He thoucht to virk with slicht.
1530   J. Palsgrave Lesclarcissement 783/1   I wyrke... Declared in ‘I worke’.
1549   R. Crowley Voyce Laste Trumpet sig. Bii   For to wyrcke.
1621   A. Montgomerie Flyting with Polwart 431   That this worme..some wonders may wirk.
1724   A. Ramsay Vision in Ever Green I. xxiv   Lat them..stryve to wirk my fall.
1880   J. E. Watt Poet. Sketches 59   To wirk some orra beast, or drive a milk shilt.
?2002   I. W. D. Forde Hale ir Sindries ii. 118   A retoured ti wirkin in ane offish an didna hae mair nor a curn contraks wi Rab Broun.

ε. ME wroche, ME–15 worche, ME–15 (18– English regional (Shropshire)) worch, lME worsche, lME worthe (transmission error), 15 woorchen (archaic), 18 wortch (English regional (Lancashire)).

c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 15996   Þe king in-to chirche gon wenden Godes werk to worchen. and masse þer iherden.
?c1430  (c1400)    Wyclif Eng. Wks. (1880) 123   Þei wolen not..worsche aftir good conscience.
1566   T. Drant tr. Horace Medicinable Morall sig. Ivj   To woorchen all our will.
1865   E. Waugh Lancs. Songs 24   When a mon's honestly willin' To wortch.
1879   G. F. Jackson Shropshire Word-bk. 488   This 'ere tuth worches me above a bit.

ζ. ME verke, ME werc, ME–15 werke, ME–15 (18– English regional (northern)) werk, 15 weorke; Scottish pre-17 weirk, pre-17 werk.

a1300  (a1250)    Physiologus (1991) 334   He..freteð hem [emended to him in ed.] al ðan he him iuel werkeð.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 14704   Þe werckes þat i werc.
c1405  (c1395)    Chaucer Canon's Yeoman's Tale (Ellesmere) (1875) l. 1477   As for to werken any thyng in contrarie.
1526   W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection iii. sig. BBBi   It can werke no effect.
?1553   Respublica (1952) i. i. 4   Avaryce maie weorke factes.
1875   E. Tweddell Rhymes Cleveland Dial. 9   Be up, mon, an' werk whaile te'syabble.

η. ME–16 worke, lME– work, 15 woork, 15 (18 English regional) wurk, 15–16 woorke, 15–16 worcke, 16 worck; Scottish pre-17 uoork, pre-17 uorke, pre-17 vork, pre-17 vurk, pre-17 worke, pre-17 wourk, pre-17 wourke, pre-17 17– work, pre-17 18– wurk.

c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 3069   Me wolde wene þat in þis lond no ston to worke nere.
1445–6   Rolls of Parl.: Henry VI (Electronic ed.) Parl. Feb. 1445 §30. m. 8   All the saide wardeyns..have full power to oversee the workemanshipp of the saide craftymen, and that thei make and work well and truely.
1551   R. Crowley Pleasure & Payne Ded. sig. Aiiv   The lorde work in the hertis of the rych.
1581   in J. Cranstoun Satirical Poems Reformation (1891) I. xliv. 368   Destroy the block, That vurkis thir Turkis aganis the.
1625   in W. Foster Eng. Factories India 1624–9 (1909) 52   Discharging our broadsides as fast as wee coulde laied them and worck them.
1645   in Notes & Queries 12th Ser. 9 223/2   Brick to worke up the wall.
1748   S. Richardson Clarissa V. xxxix. 285   But reflectioning apart, thou seest, Jack, that her plot is beginning to work.
1843   R. J. Graves Syst. Clin. Med. vi. 75   The stomach works well and performs its functions with vigour.
1994   I. Welsh Sport For All in Acid House 147   Whit's it ye dae, mate, ye wurkin?
2006   Independent 4 July 7/3   We find ways of making things work even if they were not meant to work for us.

θ. lME wake (transmission error), lME (18– English regional) wark, lME–15 warke; Scottish pre-17 warke, pre-17 18– wark (rare); Irish English (northern) 19– wark, 20– waark.

▸ 1440   [implied in: Promptorium Parvulorum (Harl. 221) 41   Blunderynge, or blunt warkynge, hebefaccio. (at working n. 1a)].
?c1450   Recipe in M. Leach Stud. Medieval Lit. in Honor A. C. Baugh (1961) 291   Ho-sal xal warkyn with gressys to sen, Ful wyse & ware he must been.
1530   Myroure Oure Ladye (Fawkes) (1873) i. 35   The tonge spekyth, the handes warke.
1640   in L. B. Taylor Aberdeen Council Lett. (1950) II. 237   That ye..put your haill shoemakeris to wark the shoes.
1880   L. Parr Adam & Eve II. 143   If 'tis to be done, he'll wark the oracle for me.
1932   D. Campbell Bamboozled 14   She believes the caller air o' Redcleugh 'll wark miracles on him.
2009   Tourism Ireland Ann. Rep. 2008 (Ulster Scots version) 12   [She] waarks i the healtht bettherment fiel'.

ι. lME warch.

a1500  (?a1425)    Antichrist (Peniarth) in R. M. Lumiansky & D. Mills Chester Myst. Cycle (1974) I. App. 497   Iff I be Crist, nowe levys ye and warchis after the wyse.
?a1500   in G. Henslow Med. Wks. 14th Cent. (1899) 2   Let seþe to þe þrydde part be sodyn a-wey, and take fro þe fuyre aned warch hit [sc. dye] vppon a cloþ.

κ. Chiefly regional and archaic. 15 wroteth (3rd singular indicative), 18– wrought; Scottish pre-17 wrochtand (present participle), 18 wroughtin’ (present participle), 19– wrocht; Irish English (northern) 20– wrocht.

1528   Tyndale That Fayth Mother of All Good Workes f. viii   Faith wroteth [1547 worketh] her selfe in the hertes of the electe.
1599   in R. D. MacEwan Old Glasgow Weavers (1916) 49   That nane..tak..ony..silveir before the hand, except the work be wrochtand the tyme thai tak the said silveir for to help to work the same.
1842   A. Rodger Stray Leaves 176   Noo, ta shentlemans will no like to [be] wroughtin' at a'.
1940   Mountain Democrat (Placerville, Calif.) 26 Dec. 7/5   Men..are accountable for something like 85 per cent of the damage which fire wroughts in California forests.
1991   J. McDonald in T. Hubbard New Makars 89   The laser-licht o consciousness wrochtin a spectrum oot frae the prisom o the makar.
2009   Tourism Ireland Ann. Rep. 2008 (Ulster Scots version) 12   [She] wrochts alang wi' community, statutory an' industry tae ansuer healtht an' weill bein' needs.

2. Past tense.

α. eOE worte, OE uorhte (Northumbrian), OE weorhte (rare), OE weorte (rare), OE worohte (chiefly Northumbrian), OE wvorht (perhaps transmission error), OE–eME worhte, OE (rare)–eME woruhte, OE (rare)–ME wrohte, OE (rare)–eME (south-west midlands) wurhte, lOE worchte, lOE worhtte, lOE wuorhte (Kentish), eME worþte (south-western), eME wrohhte ( Ormulum), eME wroukte, ME whrohte, ME worgh (transmission error), ME worouȝte (transmission error), ME wrochete (Irish English, perhaps transmission error), ME wrocte, ME wroȝgth, ME wroghte, ME wrogt, ME wroȝt, ME wrogte, ME wroȝte, ME wroȝth, ME wroht, ME wroth, ME wrouȝht, ME wroughte, ME wrougth, ME wrouȝth, ME wrouȝthe, ME wrouȝthte, ME wrouȝtte, ME wrouht, ME wrouhte, ME wrouth, ME wrouthte, ME wroutte, ME wrouuhtyn (plural), ME wrovte, ME wrowȝte, ME wrowht, ME wrowhte, ME wrowt, ME wrowte, ME wrowth, ME wroyȝt (northern), ME–15 wrouȝt, ME–15 wrouȝte, ME–15 wrout, ME–15 wroute, ME–15 wrowght, ME–16 wroght, ME– wrought (now chiefly archaic), 19– wrocht (Irish English (northern)), 19– wroucht (Irish English (northern)); Scottish pre-17 rocht (perhaps transmission error), pre-17 urocht, pre-17 vroght, pre-17 vroycht, pre-17 worought, pre-17 wrochte, pre-17 wroght, pre-17 wrot (perhaps transmission error), pre-17 wrowcht, pre-17 wroycht, pre-17 wrycht (perhaps transmission error), pre-17 17– wrought (now chiefly archaic), pre-17 (18 north-eastern) vroucht, pre-17 (18– northern) vrocht, pre-17 18– wrocht, pre-17 18– wroucht, 18 vrought (north-eastern), 19– wirout (Orkney), 19– wirrowcht (Orkney), 19– wrowt (Orkney).

OE (Northumbrian)   Lindisf. Gospels: John ix. 6   Expuit in terram et fecit lutum ex sputo : aspeaft uel on eorðu & uorhte lam uel of ðæm spadle.
OE (Northumbrian)   Rushw. Gospels: John x. 41   Iohannes quidem signum fecit nullum : iohannes wutudlice becon wrohte nan.
OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 1st Ser. (Royal) (1997) xxii. 357   Ða worhte [a1225 Lamb. warhte] god fela tacna on þam folce þurh ðæra apostola handum.
OE   Inscription on Sundial, Kirkdale Church, Yorks. in E. Okasha Hand-list of Anglo-Saxon non-runic Inscriptions (1971) 88   Hawarð me wrohte.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 5999   He harm worhte [c1300 Otho wrohte].
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) 230   It ne wrocte him neuere a del.
a1425   in C. Brown Relig. Lyrics 14th Cent. (1924) 210   In ȝowthe I wrowth folies fele.
1497   in M. Oppenheim Naval Accts. & Inventories Henry VII (1896) 324   Certeyn Shipwryghtes that wrought of the seid Ship.
a1529   J. Skelton Woffully Araid 49 in Wks. (1843) I. 143   Y wrouȝt the, I bowgȝt the frome eternal fyre.
1533   J. Gau tr. C. Pedersen Richt Vay sig. Fi   The halie spreit vrocht this conceptione.
1600   J. Hamilton Facile Traictise 293   Christ wroght this be the vertew of his word vnpreachit.
1761   Mod. Part Universal Hist. XXXII. vii. 209   She wrought matters so with Albert of Brunswick.
1890   J. Service Thir Notandums ix. 63   He wrocht awa till he was ramfeezled.
1976   R. Bulter Shaela 22   Man foo we played, an foo we wrowt.
1981   S. McAughtry Belfast Stories iii. 154   Then he wrought in the aircraft factory as a riveter.

β. eOE warahtæ (runic), lOE–eME warhte, eME wrachte, eME wrahte, eME wrahtte, eME wrauhte, ME wraght, ME wraȝte, ME wraht, lME warc (East Anglian), 15–18 wraught; Scottish pre-17 wracht, pre-17 wraught, pre-17 wraycht, pre-17 19– wraucht, 19– vraucht (eastern (central)). In Middle English, chiefly west midlands and south-western

[eOE   Runic Inscription on Franks Casket in R. I. Page Introd. Eng. Runes (1999) 162   Good helpe æadan þiiosne ciismeel gewarahtæ.]
lOE   St. Chad (Hatton) (1953) 166   He warhte eac degulran eardungstowe.
lOE   Canterbury Psalter: Canticles xvi. 2   Manus meae fecerunt organum : heo[n]dan mine warhten organan.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Katherine (Royal) (1981) 496   Þu nult nanesweis witen þet he wrahte þulliche wundres.
c1275  (?a1216)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) 106   He..of his eyre briddes wraȝte [a1300 Jesus Oxf. wrauhte].
c1400  (?c1380)    Pearl l. 56   My wreched wylle in wo ay wraȝte.
a1500  (c1425)    Andrew of Wyntoun Oryg. Cron. Scotl. (Nero) v. l. 5314   Al þe wilis þat he wraucht [rhyme noucht].
1571   in W. Mackay & H. C. Boyd Rec. Inverness (1911) I. 202   For ane serwandis expensis that wraycht the said laubour.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost ix. 70   Sin, not Time, first wraught the change.
?1750   Ballad Floddon-Field 13   Those that he with Halbert wraught.
1800   W. Wilson Sc. Rhymes 26   He..wraught a wee bit glead To light his pipe.
1905   J. Lumsden Croonings 56   A stranger bykes i' the fine farm he wraucht sae mony years.

γ. eME wercte (south-eastern).

a1225  (▸OE)    Ælfric's Homily De Initio Creaturae (Vesp. A.xxii) in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 229   Þa wercte [OE Royal worhte] he fele wundra.

δ. ME workede, 15– work'd, 15– worked, 15– workt (now nonstandard), 18 woorkt (Irish English (Wexford)), 18– work't (English regional), 19– workit (Scottish).

1371   in H. M. Flasdieck Mittelengl. Originalurkunden (1926) 103   Th[o]mas borȝde..a nors..þat workede with Thomas atte lynyne.
1523   Ld. Berners tr. J. Froissart Cronycles I. f. ccxxiv/1   Urbayne..wared proude and worked all on heed.
1576   F. K. in R. Edwards Paradyse Daynty Deuises sig. Jiiv   I hate the wrong and not the wight, that workt my wofull case.
1648   T. Gage Eng.-Amer. 200   What Porke might work upon mans body in other Nations, it worked not there.
1743   J. Bulkeley & J. Cummins Voy. to South-seas 106   It being smooth water, she work'd very well.
1841   Dickens Old Curiosity Shop ii. xliv. 42   She worked herself to death.
1914   Attica (Indiana) Ledger-Press 21 Aug. 12/4   All workt together to see that everything was spic and clean as a dooryard.
1976   ‘M. Delving’ China Expert i. 12   He..worked out of the small, comfortable house he had bought.
2004   Recorded Interview (BBC Voices Recordings: Hawick) (SCOTS transcript) in www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk   Ye workit in the tweeds or ye workit in the hosiery.

ε. lME wyrkkyd; Scottish 18– wirked, 19– wirkid, 19– wirkit.

a1500   in R. H. Robbins Hist. Poems 14th & 15th Cent. (1959) 170   They þat wyrkkyd soche wooll.
1894   A. Reid Sangs Heatherland 28   Until a hairie o' the doug, Was tummilt owre the drouthy craig Syne up the rinnie wirked.
1935   M. C. Wilson Souter's Sujaistions ii. 10   I didna ken ye wirkit under onybody. I ei thocht ye were yer ain maister.
1996   S. Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 21   At the back o the shoppie far he wirkit.

ζ. Chiefly regional and archaic. 17– wroughted.

1784   R. Boswell Bk. Psalms in Metre xliv   The work Thou wroughted'st in their days.
1876   W. A. Gunnell Sketches of Hull Celebrities 154   Allbee, hys Maysterie man wroughted yerlie an late toe illyghten ye Ladkyns top partmente, butte hee moughte as wel a usenid hys endevorments toe amayde a Ronde naile fytte a square Hoke.
1895   W. Morris & E. Magnússon tr. S. Sturluson Stories Kings of Norway III. v.–vi. 10   And in such wise thou wroughted'st That the king won back his country.

η. 18 worcht (English regional (Lancashire)), 18– worched (English regional (Shropshire)).

?1802   ‘Tim Bobbin the 2nd’ Plebeian Politics 36   Ot brew'd a jorum o' maut, an worcht it in a chambur.
1879   G. F. Jackson Shropshire Word-bk. 488   'Er worched the poor chap despertly.

3. Past participle.

α. OE geuorht (Northumbrian), OE geweorht (rare), OE geworht, OE geworulit (transmission error), OE gewyrht (rare), OE giworht (Northumbrian), OE worht (rare), OE wort (rare), lOE gewroht, lOE–ME wroht, eME ȝeworuht, eME gewrht (in copy of OE charter), eME ȝewroht, eME iweorht (south-west midlands), eME iwhorht, eME iworht, eME iworhte, eME iworut (south-west midlands), eME iwroht, eME iwroust, eME wrohht ( Ormulum), eME wrokt, eME wroust, ME ewroȝt (north-west midlands), ME iwort, ME iwrogt, ME iwroȝt, ME iwroȝte, ME iwrought, ME iwroughte, ME iwrouȝt, ME iwrouht, ME iwrouhte, ME iwrout, ME iwroutȝ, ME jwrowht, ME whrout, ME worght, ME worȝt, ME worought, ME woruȝt, ME worwt, ME wrht, ME wrocht, ME wrogh, ME wroghȝt, ME wroghte, ME wroghtte, ME wrogt, ME wroȝt, ME wroȝte, ME wrogth, ME wroȝth, ME wrohut, ME wroth, ME wrothe, ME wrotht, ME wrothte, ME wroþt, ME wrouȝg (perhaps transmission error), ME wrougt, ME wrouȝt, ME wrouȝþ, ME wrouȝte, ME wrougth, ME wrouȝth, ME wrouȝthe, ME wrouht, ME wrouhte, ME wrout, ME wroute, ME wroutȝ, ME wrouth, ME wrovte, ME wrowgt, ME wrowȝt, ME wrowgth, ME wrowht, ME wrowt, ME wrowth, ME wroyght (north midlands), ME wroyȝt (northern), ME wruȝt, ME ywort, ME ywroght, ME ywroȝt, ME ywroht, ME ywroth, ME ywrouȝt, ME ywrouȝte, ME ywrouȝth, ME ywrouht, ME ywrout, ME ywrouth, ME ywrowte, ME–15 wrotte, ME–15 wrowght, ME–16 wroght, ME–16 wroughte, ME– wrought (now chiefly archaic), ME– ywrought (now archaic), lME worst (transmission error), lME wrofft (perhaps transmission error), lME wrowgh (in a late copy, perhaps transmission error), lME ywoȝt (transmission error), 15 rought, 15 wrowte, 16 wrote; Scottish pre-17 rocht, pre-17 vorcht, pre-17 vorght, pre-17 vroght, pre-17 worcht, pre-17 worought, pre-17 wroch, pre-17 wroche, pre-17 wroght, pre-17 wroht, pre-17 wrothte, pre-17 wrowght, pre-17 ywrocht, pre-17 17– wrocht, pre-17 17– wrought (now chiefly archaic), pre-17 (18– north-eastern) vrocht, pre-17 18– wroucht, pre-17 (19– northern) vrought, 19– wirrowt (Orkney), 19– wroacht (southern); also Irish English (northern) 19– wrocht, 19– wrought. The Older Scots form ywrocht occurs in a text showing influence of southern English.

OE (Mercian)   Rushw. Gospels: Matt. xi. 23   Quia si in sodomis factæ fuissent uirtutes quae factae sunt in te : forðon þe þær in sodomingum worht were mægen þa worht werun in ðe.
OE   Beowulf (2008) 1696   Swa wæs on ðæm scennum..gesæd hwam þæt sweord geworht..ærest wære.
OE   Homily: Gospel of Nicodemus (Corpus Cambr. 41) in Mod. Philol. (1903–4) 1 612   Ond þonne Godes engelas arædað ælces mannes worc, swa god swa yfel, swa hi ær gewyrht habbað.
OE   tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (Cambr. Univ. Libr.) i. Introd. 26   Her beoð swyþe genihtsume weolocas, of þam bið geweorht se weolocreada tælgh.
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough interpolation) anno 675   On his time þa seonde he to Rome Wilfrid biscop to þam pape..& cydde him..hu his breðre Peada & Wulfhere & se abbot Saxulf heafden wroht an minstre.
?c1200   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) Ded. l. 153   Icc hafe hemm wrohht tiss boc.
c1300   Havelok (Laud) (1868) 1352   Dwelling haueth ofte scaþe wrouth.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Royal) (1850) 2 John 8   See ȝe ȝoure silf, lest ȝe leese the thinges that ȝe han wrought.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 25914   Þerfor haf i worght þis bok.
c1450  (?a1400)    Wars Alexander (Ashm.) l. 3264   Had he worȝt ay to wees welth.
c1475  (?c1400)    Apol. Lollard Doctr. (1842) 16   Lord, þu hast wrout al our warkis in vs.
c1550   Complaynt Scotl. (1979) vii. 55   The..figuris that hed bene grauit vrocht and brodrut.
1585   S. Daniel in tr. P. Giovio Worthy Tract contayning Disc. Imprese To Rdr. sig. A.vi   This [inuention]..which time hath now at length perfited and rought into a more regulare order.
1635   Maldon (Essex) Borough Deeds (Bundle 145 No. 2b)   The earth being lately by the tide wroughte.
1756   C. Lucas Ess. Waters i. 128   Water is raised by a machine,..wrought by an horse.
1871   Banffshire Jrnl. 4 July   Hard an' sair we a' hae vrocht.
1998   S. Priest Merleau-Ponty xiii. 211   Matter is wrought into a new form.
2000   M. Fitt But n Ben A-go-go xiii. 99   He had wrocht the situation tae be as moger-free as possible.

β. OE gewarht (rare), eME iwracht, eME iwraht, eME iwrat (perhaps transmission error), eME wraht, ME ywraht, ME (15 northern) wrauht, ME (northern)–15 wraght, lME rawt (East Anglian), 15– wraught (now rare); Scottish pre-17 wracht, pre-17 wraucht, 17–18 wraught. In Middle English, chiefly west midlands and south-western

eOE   Corpus Gloss. (1890) 37/1   Conderetur, gewarht.
eOE   tr. Orosius Hist. (BL Add.) (1980) v. ii. 114   Giet to dæge mon hæt Corrinthisce fatu ealle þe þærof gewarhte wæron.
lOE   St. Chad (Hatton) (1953) 182   Heo wes gewarht ufan on huses gelicnesse.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Juliana (Bodl.) 378   Ma wundres ich habbe iwraht þene ich mahte munien.
a1300   in R. Morris Old Eng. Misc. (1872) 90   We habbeþ werkes yeynes þi wille wrauht.
c1325   in G. L. Brook Harley Lyrics (1968) 49   Þeȝes, legges, fet, ant al ywraht wes of þe beste.
?c1450   Life St. Cuthbert (1891) l. 5817   Þare was anes a tre arayde...It was in a wayne wraght for to be broght hame.
1518   in I. S. Leadam Select Cases Star Chamber (1911) II. 135   To..cawse further myschefe to have byn wraught.
1647   H. More Philos. Poems iii. iv. viii   So little fruits remain of all my skill hath wraught.
1791   J. Learmont Poems Pastoral 57   We are sae dowrly wraught.
a1846   J. H. Frere in Wks. (1872) I. 38   Fiercer fray was never wraught.

γ. ME wirkede, ME wirkid; Scottish pre-17 wirk (rare), 19– wirked, 19– wirkid, 19– wirkit.

a1400   in C. Horstmann Yorkshire Writers (1896) II. 37   First, at helle þi thoght shal be, to se how synne is wirkid [a1500 BL Add. wroken] þare; and in purgatorie may þou se how synne is clensyd, with pynes sare.
c1440  (?a1349)    in G. G. Perry Relig. Pieces in Prose & Verse (1914) 111   This erthely besynes..hase men wirkede waa.
a1522   G. Douglas tr. Virgil Æneid (1959) vi. iv. 58   Confusyt Chaos, quharof all thing beyn wirk [rhyme dyrk].
1995   A. Fenton Craiters i. 42   Ye'd tae haiv up e roon clew..till ye'd wirkit yer wye roon e heid o e ruck.
2004   S. Blackhall Minnie 77   He'd covert puckles o shearers and skiffies fa'd come and gaen on the ferms he'd wirked on.

δ. lME worchen.

a1425   in R. H. Bowers Three Middle Eng. Relig. Poems (1963) 377   Ye cursed gastes, hens ye wende..Of the develle to take youre mede After that ye af worchen in dede.

ε. lME wrowten, 15 wrochtin (Scottish).

c1425   Serm. (BL Add.) in G. Cigman Lollard Serm. (1989) 82   Olde men in hire laste age, whiche han..neuer wrowten in þe vineȝerd of God.
1568   Want of Wyse Men (Bannatyne) in R. Henryson Poems (1908) III. 172   Welth is away, wit is now wrochtin to wrinkis.

ζ. lME worched, 18 worcht (English regional (Lancashire)).

a1470   Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll. 13) (1990) I. 272   We have worched all maner of sylke workys.
1812   ‘Tim Bobbin the 2nd’ Plebeian Politics (new ed.) 21   I'd hah mede 'em t' hah worcht for the'r livink.

η. 15 workyd, 15– worked, 16– workt (now nonstandard), 18– worrk'd (English regional (Yorkshire)), 19– workit (Scottish).

a1538   T. Starkey Dial. Pole & Lupset (1989) 115   Our marchantys cary them [sc. lead and tin] out..& then bryng the same in workyd agayn and made vessel therof.
1604   T. Dekker & T. Middleton Honest Whore sig. G4v   Neither hum, hem, nor ha, onely starde me in the face, past along, and made hast in, as if my lookes had workt with him, to giue him a stoole.
1688   R. Holme Acad. Armory iii. 291/1   Wool is rent and torn and beaten very fine,..before it can be worked into Hats.
1733   E. Budgell Bee No. 5. I. 180   In what an hurry a Weekly Pamphlet of three Sheets must be work'd off.
1879   Cassell's Techn. Educator (new ed.) IV. 212/1   Several mines were worked for this metal.
1911   Sat. Press (Attica, Indiana) 20 May 1/5   He..had workt at his bench until within four hours of his death.
1991   H. Holton in T. Hubbard New Makars 134   Oo sall gin awe the wild weather ats workit oor wie.
2014   Atlantic Apr. 16/1   Two brothers who worked in their father's office-furniture business.

θ. Chiefly regional and archaic. 18– wroughted, 19– wrochtit (Scottish, rare).

1867   Benton Tribune (Oxford, Indiana) 8 Aug. 2/2   How shall I ever meet you since this destruction have been wroughted?
1886   Railway World 20 Feb. 177/2   Modified..so as to embrace all the privileges, restrictions, and conditions wroughted by this act.
1976   Sc. National Dict. X. at Wirk   Pa.p...double form wrochtit.

(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: A word inherited from Germanic.
Etymology: In α. , ε. , and η. forms   of the present stem (i) cognate with Old Dutch wurchen  , Old Saxon wurkian   (Middle Low German wurken  ), Old High German wurken   (Middle High German wurken  , würken  , German †würken  ), Old Icelandic yrkja  , Norwegian (Nynorsk) yrkje  , Old Swedish yrkia   (Swedish yrka  ), Old Danish yrkia  , yrke   (Danish ørke  ), Gothic waurkjan   < a suffixed Germanic base with zero grade < the same Indo-European base as Mycenaean Greek wo-ze  , Avestan vərəzyeiti   he works.
In β.   and δ. forms   of the present stem (ii) originally cognate with Old Frisian wirka  , wirtza  , Old Dutch wirchen  , wirken   (Middle Dutch wirken  , Dutch wirken  ), Old Saxon wirkian   (Middle Low German wirken  ), Old High German wirken   (Middle High German wirken  , German wirken  , now only ‘to have an effect’ and ‘to do needlework’) < the Germanic base of work n.   (ultimately reflecting the e  -grade of the same Indo-European base) + a suffix forming verbs; however, some of these forms could also have arisen in other ways (see note).
In γ.   and ζ. forms   (iii) cognate with or formed similarly to Old Frisian werka  , Middle Dutch werken   (Dutch werken  ), Old Saxon werkon   (Middle Low German werken  ), Old High German werkōn   (Middle High German werken  , German werken  ), Old Icelandic verka  , Norwegian (Nynorsk) verke  , Old Swedish värka   (Swedish verka  ), either reflecting early influence of work n.   on the stem vowel of the verb (see α.   and β. forms at work n.) or re-formed < the noun at a later stage. Some early examples of this type could also have arisen directly from the β.   and δ. forms   (see note).
Further cognate forms.
With the α. , ε. , and η. forms   of the present stem compare also (without the suffix) Old Icelandic orka  , Norwegian orke  , Old Swedish orka   (Swedish orka  ), Old Danish orkæ   (Danish orke  ).
With the β.   and δ. forms   of the present stem compare also ( < German) Danish virke   (already in early modern Danish), also Swedish virka   (now chiefly with reference to needlework). Compare also Old Icelandic verkja  , virkja   to feel pain (see wark v.). With the e  -grade of the Indo-European base compare further ancient Greek ἔρδω  , ῥέζω   I do (perfect ἔοργα  ), and perhaps Middle Breton groa   he does, Old Welsh guragun   let us make, Welsh †gorug   he made, did (13th cent.; compare Welsh gwneud   to do, make, with some analogical changes to the form).
Form history: (i) present stem.
In Old English a weak Class I verb.
Forms with y   in Old English (see Forms 1α. ) show regular i-mutation of the zero-grade stem vowel u   in the present stem.
Beside these, forms reflecting a different ablaut grade of the present stem are attested in Old English in early Mercian (Vespasian Psalter) as wircan  , with i   raised from e   (see Forms 1β. ). However, later forms showing stem vowel i   in the present stem, especially those attested in the east midlands and the north (compare Forms 1δ. ), are more likely to show the reflex of Old English y   in those areas.
Forms with stem vowel e   (see Forms 1γ.   and 1ζ. ) apparently chiefly show the influence of work n. (see main etymology), but some may have arisen in other ways, especially in the south-east where e   would represent the regular reflex of y   in Old English wyrcan   (compare Old English (Kentish) werð   at Forms 1γ. ).
Forms with stem vowel o   (see Forms 1ε.   and 1η. ) apparently show graphic substitution of wo   for wu   (compare Forms 1α. ) to avoid minim confusion. In Middle English such forms are widespread and not restricted to western dialects (where u   is the expected reflex of Old English y  ); they chiefly reflect the special Old English development of wyr-   to wur-   (see A. Campbell Old Eng. Gram. (1959) §§322, 324, and compare worm n., worse adj., wort n.1, etc.).
Forms with stem vowel a   (see Forms 1θ.   and 1ι. ) probably show the regular late Middle English lowering of er   (compare Forms 1γ.   and 1ζ. ) to ar   that is also seen in e.g. star n.1   and clerk n., although some influence from wark v.   is also possible. Compare also Middle Dutch warken  , Middle Low German warken   to work (both uncommon variants of the forms listed in the main etymology).
In Old English the stem-final consonant is palatalized and assibilated in the present stem except in the 2nd and 3rd singular indicative; these assibilated forms are continued in Middle English in forms with stem-final affricate, e.g. wurche  , wirch  , werch  , etc. (see Forms 1α. , 1β. , 1γ. , 1ε. , 1ι. ). Forms with stem-final plosive like modern standard English work   (see Forms 1δ. , 1ζ. , 1η. , 1θ. ), probably partly show generalization of the unassibilated consonant of the 2nd and 3rd singular indicative, and partly the influence of the Scandinavian cognates and of work n.
Occasional present-stem forms of the type wrought   (see Forms 1κ. ) are inferred from the past tense and past participle (compare Forms 2α.   and 3α. ). Compare the double past tense and past participle forms discussed below.
Form history: (ii) past tense and past participle.
The past tense worhte   and past participle worht   (see Forms 2α.   and 3α. ) reflect regular Germanic lowering of the zero-grade stem vowel u   to o   (before the mid to low vowels of the original endings). With the past tense forms at Forms 2α.   compare Old Frisian wrocht-  , Middle Low German wrochte  , Old High German worhta  , Early Runic worahto  , Old Icelandic orti  , Gothic waurhta   (all 3rd person singular indicative), also (2nd person singular indicative) Old Dutch worhtus  ; with the corresponding past participle forms at Forms 3α.   compare Old Frisian -wrocht  , Middle Dutch geworcht  , gewrocht  , Middle Low German gewrocht  , geworcht  , Old High German giworht  , Old Icelandic ort  , Old Danish urt  . The Old English past tense warhte   and past participle warht   (see Forms 2β.   and 3β. ) show a specifically Anglian development of this form type, with a change of o   to a   before r  . Compare the apparently parallel developments seen for example in Old Dutch warhton   (3rd person plural past indicative) and the past participles Middle Dutch gewracht  , gewarcht  , Old Saxon giwarhta   (Middle Low German gewracht  ).
The forms of the past tense and the past participle show occasional metathesis of r   already in Old English, which later becomes the norm; compare Old English (past tense) wrohte  , modern English wrought  .
From the Middle English period onwards, past tense and past participle are re-formed, based on various forms of the present stem with the suffix -ed   (see Forms 2γ. , 2δ. , 2ε. , 2η. , and 3γ. , 3ζ. , 3η. ). Compare likewise the formation of a new past participle with the suffix -en   (see Forms 3δ. ) by analogy with the past participles of strong verbs. Double past forms are also occasionally attested (see Forms 2ζ. , 3ε. , 3θ. , and compare wroughted adj.), in which the past tense and past participle suffix is added to an existing past tense or past participle form. The current standard form worked   first appears in the 14th cent., and is now the usual form of the past tense and past participle except in archaic use or in particular senses, especially relating to craftsmanship, in which the form wrought   survives; compare branch IV., especially sense 21, and also wrought adj.). Similar secondary past tense and past participle formations from the most prominent forms of the present stem also occur in other West Germanic languages in the medieval period. These are consistently attested earliest in the past participle (compare Middle Dutch gewerkt  , Old Saxon giwerkot  , Middle High German gewerket  ), and go on to become the standard forms in each language.
Prefixed forms.
In Old English the prefixed form gewyrcan  i-wurche v.   is also attested. Compare also awyrcan   to make, do, act (compare a- prefix1), bewyrcan  bework v., forwyrcan  forwork v., inwyrcan  inwork v., miswyrcan  miswork v., oferwyrcan  overwork v., oþwyrcan   to harm (compare oth prep.), unwyrcan  unwork v., ymbwyrcan   to hedge in, to weave (compare umbe- prefix), and also fullwyrcan  full-work v., samwyrcan   to half do (compare sam- prefix).
Notes on specific senses.
The semantic range of work v.   is not paralleled by any single expression in Latin or the Romance languages, and the English word is used to translate a variety of words and expressions in these languages.
In branch VII.   influenced by wark v., perhaps as a reinterpretation by association of that word with forms of work v.   with stem vowel a   (see Forms 1θ. ).
 I. To act, do, function, operate.
 1. transitive.

 a. To do, perform (a task, deed, process, etc.). Frequently with cognate object. Now archaic (frequently in past tense or past participle in form wrought). Sometimes overlapping with sense 9.See also to work a wonder at Phrases 1a, to work a miracle at Phrases 1b; to work magic at Phrases 1c.

OE   Blickling Homilies 21   Ac eal swa hwæt swa se gesenelica lichama deþ oþþe wyrceþ, eal þæt deþ seo ungesynelice sawl þurh þone lichoman.
OE   Old Eng. Hexateuch: Gen. (Claud.) xlvii. 3   He axode hwæt hy wyrcean cuþon: hi andswarodon..: We synd scephyrdas.
OE   Ælfric Homily: De Duodecim Abusivis (Corpus Cambr. 178) in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 304   Leorniað good to wyrcanne [a1225 Lamb. to wurchenne].
OE   West Saxon Gospels: Matt. (Corpus Cambr.) xxvi. 10   God weorc heo worhte on me.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric's Homily on Nativity of Christ (Bodl. 343) in A. O. Belfour 12th Cent. Homilies in MS Bodl. 343 (1909) 94   Ylc mon is nu eadiȝ & sæliȝ..ȝif he his weorc mid wisdome wurceð [OE Julius gefadað].
?c1200   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 9988   Swillke sinndenn alle þa Þatt wirrkenn gode werrkess.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 2218   Ðe breðere ne wisten it nogt Hu ðis dede wurðe wrogt.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Fairf. 14) l. 5870   Þai salle..wirk .ij. dayes werk a-pon a day.
c1405  (c1395)    Chaucer Merchant's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 241   Werk alle thyng by conseil.
c1449   R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 50   Oon man..wolde..wirche sumwhile the oon craft and sumwhile the other craft.
a1475  (?a1430)    Lydgate tr. G. Deguileville Pilgrimage Life Man (Vitell.) l. 3593 (MED)   Ye tournede..Water..in-to good wyn, And also many A-nother thyng Thorgh your wonderful werkyng Ye han ywrouht ageynys kynde.
?1507   W. Dunbar Tua Mariit Wemen (Rouen) in Poems (1998) I. 50   I maid that wif carll to werk all womenis werkis.
1593   R. Hooker Of Lawes Eccl. Politie i. ii. 50   God worketh nothing without cause.
1608   in Assembly Bks. Southampton (1917) I. 97   She worcketh knittinge of stockings.
1618   W. Lawson New Orchard & Garden x. 28   Grafting..is thus wrought.
1649   Bp. J. Hall Resol. & Decisions iv. viii. 473   A Sacrament, conferring Grace by the very worke wrought.
1746   P. Francis tr. Horace Art of Poetry 264   Let not such upon the Stage be brought, Which better should behind the Scenes be wrought.
1785   W. Cowper Task vi. 557   So God wrought double justice.
1821   J. Baillie W. Wallace xci, in Metrical Legends 70   In Guienne right valiant deeds he wrought.
1863   A. P. Stanley Lect. Jewish Church I. iii. 64   The twenty years of exile and servitude had wrought their work.
1920   Eng. Hist. Rev. Jan. 25   The special work which he undertook, and the rich ability with which he wrought it.
1994   P. Derow tr. Herodotus in S. Hornblower Greek Historiogr. (1996) ii. 75   That great and wonderful works and deeds—wrought by both Greeks and barbarians—might not be uncelebrated.

OE—1994(Hide quotations)


 b. To perpetrate (evil, an evil or harmful deed); to commit (a sin or crime). Now somewhat archaic (frequently in past tense or past participle in form wrought).

eOE (Mercian)   Vespasian Psalter (1965) v. 5   Omnes qui operantur iniquitatem : alle ða ðe wircað unrehtwisnisse.
OE   Ælfric Let. to Wulfgeat (Hatton) in B. Assmann Angelsächsische Homilien u. Heiligenleben (1889) 2   And þa halgan englas, þe on heofonum wuniað, ne worhton nane synne, ne hi synnian ne magon.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric's Homily on Nativity of Christ (Bodl. 343) in A. O. Belfour 12th Cent. Homilies in MS Bodl. 343 (1909) 82   He hatæð soðlice þa ðe unriht wurceæð [OE Julius þa yfelwyrcendan and þa unrihtwisan].
a1300  (a1250)    Physiologus (1991) 397   Sipes ȝe sinkeð & scaðe ðus werkeð.
c1330  (?c1300)    Speculum Guy (Auch.) (1898) 759   Anon, so þu hast sinne wrouht,..to shrifte þat þu gange.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 24158   Vn-reufulli yee wirc vnright.
a1425  (c1333–52)    L. Minot Poems (1914) 23   Fals treson alway þai wroght.
c1449   R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 342   Tho pseudo Apostilis wrouȝten persecucioun..aȝens the trewe Apostlis.
c1450  (c1350)    Alexander & Dindimus (Bodl.) (1929) 688 (MED)   Þe hete..Þat enforceþ þe flech folie to wirche.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Ezek. xxxiii. 26   Ye worke abhominacions, euery one defyleth his neghbours wife.
1581   J. Merbecke Bk. of Notes 1158   And keepes hir husbands secrets close, when friend worke wily guiles.
1611   Bible (King James) Matt. vii. 23   Depart from me, ye that worke iniquity.  
1613   S. Purchas Pilgrimage 25   Working that malice on the creatures..which he could not..wrecke on their Creator.
1708   M. Hole Pract. Expos. Church-catechism 514   'Tis a delight in working Evil to another..: which is the Humor of the Devil.
1774   M. Deverell Serm. v. 110   Furious anger throws a man off his guard, and leads him to work unrighteousness.
1829   T. Hood Dream Eugene Aram in Gem 1 112   Methought, last night, I wrought A murder, in a dream!
1894   G. B. Stevens Johannine Theol. vi. 140   Those who habitually work iniquity are morally kindred to the devil.
1923   D. A. Mackenzie Myths China & Japan xix. 363   Susa-no-wo..is associated with Yomi, the habitation of the deities that work evil against mankind.
2011   B. J. Hollars Thirteen Loops 7   The crimes wrought against Michael Donald and Matthew Shepard both qualify as hate crimes.

eOE—2011(Hide quotations)


 (a) To perform or observe (a ceremony, rite, etc.). Now rare and chiefly Freemasonry (cf. sense 1c(b)).

OE   West Saxon Gospels: Luke (Corpus Cambr.) xxii. 11   Hwar ys cumena hus þar ic mine eastron wyrce mid minon leorningcnihtum [L. ubi pascha cum discipulis meis manducem]?
c1330   Short Metrical Chron. (Royal) 311 in J. Ritson Anc. Eng. Metrical Romanceës (1802) II. 283   Eleutherie, the pope of Rome, Stablede suithe sone Godes werkes wurche, Ant singe in holy chirche.
a1425  (a1400)    Prick of Conscience (Galba & Harl.) (1863) 3685 (MED)   He es Goddes minister and haly kirkes, Þat þe sacrament of þe auter wirkes.
?a1525  (?a1475)    Play Sacrament l. 325 in N. Davis Non-Cycle Plays & Fragm. (1970) 68   Seyng hys evynsong, As yt hys [read ys] worshepe for to werche.
1852   Freemasons' Q. Mag. & Rev. June 256   Some can work the ceremony of Initiation.
1903   J. T. Lawrence Masonic Jurispr. & Symbolism viii. 74   What generally takes place in a lodge of instruction is that the lectures, or sections of them, are worked, officers to conduct the same being appointed at a previous meeting.
1949   E. M. Butler Ritual Magic ii. ii. 117   Gilles worked the rites, or rather his wizards did so for him.

OE—1949(Hide quotations)


 (b) Freemasonry. To award ceremonially (a Masonic degree). Cf. degree n. 7b.

1868   Freemason's Mag. 22 Aug. 141/2   The speculative degrees mentioned had never been worked in Kilwinning.
1884   W. J. Hughan Origin Eng. Rite Freemasonry i. 5   The fancy that the Craft..and other degrees were worked by our ancient brethren during the seventeenth century.
1954   W. Hannah Christian by Degrees iv. 65   The 26th degree known as Prince of Mercy (not worked in England) also regards Hiram as a type of Christ in His death and resurrection.
1978   Lochaber News 31 Mar. 2/7   An EA Degree was worked and was well received by the Brethren present.
2009   T. Churton Invisible Hist. Rosicrucians xv. 403   From about 1775 the Rose Croix degree was worked in British masonic Knights Templar ‘Encampments’.

1868—2009(Hide quotations)


d. To wage (war, a war); to engage in (battle, hostile action). Obsolete (archaic and rare after 17th cent.).

eOE   tr. Orosius Hist. (BL Add.) (1980) ii. v. 47   Se Themestocles gemyndgade Ionas þære ealdan fæhþe þe Xersis him to geworht hæfde.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 3220   Ðat folc ebru to werchen wi.
?c1400  (c1380)    Chaucer tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (BL Add. 10340) (1868) iv. met. vii. l. 4237   Agamenon þat wrouȝt[e] [?c1425 Cambr. Ii.3.21 wrowhte] and continuede þe batailes by ten ȝere.
a1425  (c1333–52)    L. Minot Poems (1914) 19   A were es wroght..Ȝowre walles with to wrote.
a1500   Partenay (Trin. Cambr.) l. 4056   Where this Geant were procured and wrought.
1657   T. Stanley Psalterium Carolinum sig. Ff   The war our sins have wrought, With Peace, which Christ hath bought.
1683   Romulus & Hersilia iv. iv. 42   You love the fair Hersilia; And as a means to gain her wrought this war, And got my Fort by Treason.
1813   J. Montgomery World before Flood x. 195   When war in heaven was wrought, Michael against the Prince of Darkness fought.

eOE—1813(Hide quotations)


2. transitive. To perform duly, carry out, execute (something commanded, recommended, or imposed as an obligation). Also: to carry out (one's own desire or intention). Obsolete.Later evidence of, for example, to work God's will, is interpreted as belonging at sense 9   ‘to bring about’ (see e.g. quot. 1950 at sense 9). See also to work one's will at Phrases 2.

OE   Blickling Homilies 67   Þu scealt on æghwylce tid Godes willan wercan.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 64   Ac ðe þe his beȝenga bið & his willæn wyrcæð, þonne wille ihyran þe heofenlicæ Wældend.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 81 (MED)   Moyses..sette imong monkunne laȝe and lare hu me sulde godalmihti serue and his wille wurche in orðe.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Juliana (Bodl.) 318 (MED)   Wurch eleusius wil, for ich þe ȝeoue leaue.
c1390  (?c1350)    Joseph of Arimathie (1871) l. 491   His riche men..þat his red wrouȝten.
a1450  (▸1411)    in J. Kail 26 Polit. Poems (1904) 43   How darst þou byd me, for shame, To bowe to þe or worche þy wille?
c1475   Wisdom (Folg.) (1969) l. 923 (MED)   Why werkyst þou hys consell?
▸ ?a1513   W. Dunbar Poems (1998) I. 109   Lat Fortoun wirk furthe hir rage.
1614   S. Jerome Moses his Sight of Canaan 234   If thou wilt not fall downe and worship him, and worke his will, [etc.].

OE—1614(Hide quotations)


 3. intransitive. Of a person or (now only) God, the Holy Spirit, etc.: to do something; to operate, act. Also: (of God, the Holy Spirit, etc.) to operate through or be active in a person. See also to work in mysterious ways at mysterious adj. and n. Phrases.

eOE   King Ælfred tr. Gregory Pastoral Care (Hatton) (1871) lv. 429   Se ðegn, se ðe..nyle wyrcean æfter his hlafordes willan [L. non fecit secundum uoluntatem eius], he bið manigra wita wyrðe.
OE   Soul & Body I 64   Þe þin sawl sceal minum unwillu[m] oft gesecan, wemman þe mid wordum, swa ðu worhtest to me.
a1225  (c1200)    Vices & Virtues (1888) 27   Crist..wille alle sennes forȝiuen hem ðe on him belieueð and ðar after wercheð.
c1225  (?c1200)    Hali Meiðhad (Bodl.) (1940) 121   Ne þearf þu bute wilnin, & leote godd wurchen.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 5819   Wisemen he drou to him, & after hom he wroȝte.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 88   Þus workeþ þe holy gost ine þe herten of guode men be grace and be uirtue.
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1865) I. 7   Þey schulleþ fonge her mede of hym þat rewardeþ..al þat wel worcheþ.
c1390  (?c1350)    Joseph of Arimathie (1871) l. 49 (MED)   Louse þi lippes a-twynne & let þe gost worche.
c1405  (c1387–95)    Chaucer Canterbury Tales Prol. (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 499   This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf That firste he wroghte, and afterward that he taughte.
a1450  (?c1405)    in J. Kail 26 Polit. Poems (1904) 22   Gostly blynd..Þat leueþ wit, and worchiþ by wille.
c1503   Beuys of Southhamptowne (Pynson) sig. k.iiv   Iosyan..trauayled of chylde... She sayde..‘go hens away,..And late me worke and our lady’.
?1528   J. Skelton Dyuers Balettys & Dyties x   Aduertysyng you..to warke more secretly.
1546   in State Papers Henry VIII (1852) XI. 225   I will do what I can..then must Godd worcke.
1569   R. Grafton Chron. II. 63   He, because that he could not otherwise speake vnto him, wrought by signes.
1583   J. Stockwood in tr. J. von Ewich Duetie Magistrate in Time of Plague Ep. Ded. sig. **8   We wil therfore vse no meanes at all to saue our selues, but let God work.
c1600  (c1350)    Alisaunder (Greaves) (1929) 517   In battail or bolde stede bigly too wirch.
1655   E. Hide Naked Mans Peace is Obed. 12   All are to stand still, let God work in them by the power of his will.
1703   G. Garden tr. A. Bourignon Light risen in Darkness iii. xxiii. 102   Say nothing to them of it. Let God work.
1726   E. Bird Fate & Destiny i. 14   But we may as well..walk without Legs, speak when we were born dumb; as chuse, if God works in us irresistibly.
1831   Calvinistic Mag. Feb. 46   Satan works in the soul, and man freely disobeys. God works in the soul, and man as freely obeys.
1889   J. E. Ryland tr. A. Neander Memorials Christian Life in Early & Middle Ages ii. vii. 256   Man, they said, can do and effect nothing, but must only let God work in him.
1919   Lutheran Compan. 18 Jan. 34/3   If we do not let Jesus work, everything will be one miserable failure in His eyes.
1968   D. C. Steinmetz Misericordia Dei v. iv. 148   The Spirit will work in and through him.
2007   W. A. Wiersbe Bible Comm.: Old Test. 508/1   One of Saul's greatest failures as a leader was his inability to take his hands off situations and let God work.

eOE—2007(Hide quotations)

 4. intransitive.

 a. Of a thing, system, etc.: to perform a function, operate, esp. in a specified manner. Of a plan, scheme, etc.: to have a specified outcome.In early use sometimes with connotations of influence, and so overlapping with sense 38.

OE   Ælfric Interrogationes Sigewulfi in Genesin (Corpus Cambr. 162) xxvii, in Anglia (1884) 7 20   Seo [sc. the soul] hæfð on hire þreo þing on annysse æfre wyrcende, þæt is gemynd & andgit & willa.
1379   MS Gloucester Cathedral 19 No. 1. i. iii. f. 3v   As the sonne wirkyth in all creaturis her beneathe.
a1425  (a1400)    Prick of Conscience (Galba & Harl.) (1863) 3137   Þe fire..wirkes on wonderful manere,..Thurgh wilk þe saule most clensed be In purgatory.
c1480  (a1400)    St. Justina 593 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) II. 169   Þi strinth sal nocht wyrke agane þe treutht of haly kirke.
a1500  (?a1425)    tr. Secreta Secret. (Lamb.) 71   Whanne þe wyt werketh and þe wyl ys trauaylled.
1526   Bible (Tyndale) Rom. viii. 28   All thynges worke for the best [1611 worke together for good] vnto them that love god.
1598   H. Roberts Honours Conquest sig. N2v   This plotte working effectually, Alinda orderly as she was accustomed, went to visite the children.
1651   J. French Art Distillation i. 40   This Oil taken inwardly worketh upward and downward.
a1655   T. Armitage Tryall of Faith (1661) 124   That you may see the greatness of the love of parents to their children, consider how it works.
1700   Moxon's Mech. Exercises: Bricklayers-wks. 6   Also to River or Sea Sand, if you put a third part of Powder of Tiles.., it works the better.
1784   J. Twamley Dairying Exemplified 30   This [salt] will..cause the Rennet to Work quick.
1832   Edinb. Rev. Oct. 245   How will the Reform Bill work in the return of members to Parliament?
1843   R. J. Graves Syst. Clin. Med. vi. 75   The stomach works well and performs its functions with vigour.
1862   E. Davies Let. 3 Dec. (2004) 7   I think too the Co-Editorship worked badly. Miss Gimingham says she sent in a paper of which she heard nothing for a year & a half.
1910   Outlook 12 Mar. 590/2   How would it work to have on the school committee teachers who..would have power to vote for the discharge of the superintendent?
1977   M. Allen Spence in Petal Park xxxi. 146   All that rubbish they learnt on the rugger field about giving the other fellow a sporting chance... The world just doesn't work like that.
2010   Independent 4 Aug. 16/3   Used lightly chilli can work in the same way as any other seasoning.

OE—2010(Hide quotations)


 b. To have the desired outcome or effect; to be effective or successful; (also) to satisfy one's requirements or conditions.

1599   G. Chapman Humerous Dayes Myrth sig. Dv   King. Wherefore bring you this apparell, that picture, and that sword? Lau. To put him by the sight of them in mind of..the true vse they should be put vnto. King... Though these obiects do not worke, yet it is very probable..we shal discerne his humor of them.
1625   W. Crashaw Londons Lament. sig. D2   As thou wouldst haue this Medicine worke, and become powerfull for thy preseruation, forget not to take a taste of this continually, the first thing in the Morning, and the last at Night.
1748   S. Richardson Clarissa V. xxxix. 285   But reflectioning apart, thou seest, Jack, that her plot is beginning to work.
1849   T. Arnold Let. 28 Aug. in N.Z. Lett. (1966) 135   Nothing is easier than to make a beautiful scheme of education on paper, but to make it work is ‘quite another pair of shoes’.
1861   Trollope Framley Parsonage II. xiii. 267   Lady Lufton was beginning to fear that her plan would not work.
1892   L. Clifford Aunt Anne I. ii. 40   Walter had tried sending Florence and the children and going down every week himself; but he found ‘it didn't work’.
1957   Life 18 Feb. 57/1   If it works, early retirement can produce the blissful by-product shown on the next page.
1969   F. O'Connor Let. 4 Feb. in Habit of Being (1980) 373   I felt better about the book, knowing you think it works.
1986   Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 31 Oct.   Diarrhoea..can stop the oral contraceptive pill from working.
1990   J. Eberts & T. Ilott My Indecision is Final xxxv. 350   Quite frankly I can't believe in their relationship, and the only thing that works for me is the father and son.
2001   Business Week 4 June (e.biz section) 34   They had a bunch of crazy ideas that would never work.

1599—2001(Hide quotations)


 c. Of a machine, device, etc.: to function, run, operate, esp. properly or effectively, or in a specified manner; (also) to be in a functional condition.

c1610   in G. C. Bond Early Hist. Mining (1924) 15   Smale modles often fayle..when they cume to worcke upon heavye..weightes.
1702   Post Man 21 Feb. 2/2 (advt.)    There is a small Engine, that Raises Water..now set up at the Engine-House..in Dorset Garden, which will Work every Saturday and Wednesday.
1726   G. Leoni tr. L. B. Alberti Archit. II. 11   Cranes or Skrews, or any other Engine, working either by Leavers or Pullies.
1842   Dickens Amer. Notes I. ii. 46   Telegraphs working; flags hoisted.
1867   tr. R. Clausius Mech. Theory Heat 198   A machine which works with expansion.
1889   A. C. Gunter That Frenchman! iv. 37   Maurice..closes the door..trying it to be sure the spring lock has worked.
1917   M. T. Jackson Museum ii. 67   Like all mechanical devices it [sc. the thermostat] does not always work.
1936   N.Y. Woman 23 Sept. 37/1   The [sewing] machine is light..and there's not the slightest tremor of vibration as it works.
1978   H. Wouk War & Remembrance xxiv. 238   There's a fridge, but it doesn't work.
2012   Scuba Apr. 44/3   Your compass works by using a magnetic north-seeking needle that orientates itself with the earth's magnetic field.

c1610—2012(Hide quotations)


 a. intransitive. To perform a calculation; to proceed in a particular way in calculation; to go through the process of solving an arithmetical or mathematical problem.

c1400  (▸1391)    Chaucer Treat. Astrolabe (Cambr. Dd.3.53) (1872) ii. §5. 19   Whan þat the degree of thy sonne falleth by-twixe two Almykanteras.., thow Most werken in this wise.
?c1425   Crafte Nombrynge in R. Steele Earliest Arithm. in Eng. (1922) 23   Here he teches how þou schalt wyrch in þis craft. Þou schalt multiplye þe last figure [etc.].
1610   A. Hopton Baculum Geodæticum ii. xv. 35   For the distance of sides of Triangles, worke thus.
1614   R. Handson tr. B. Pitiscus Trigonom. ii. 20   If you worke by the table of latitudes..the difference of longitude will be 68 deg.
1766   Compl. Farmer at Surveying   If instead of squaring the half feet, you square the half yards.., and work with them, you will attain the same end without any regardable difference.
1823   J. Guy Tutor's Assist. 79   Work for the tare and trett as before.
1964   B. G. Neal Struct. Theorems & their Applic. iv. 59   It is..more convenient to work with force variables.
2009   U. McGovern & P. Jenner Lost Lore 74   When working with pre-decimal currency, some of the key numbers to remember are that there were 20 shillings in a pound.

c1400—2009(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. To solve or address by means of arithmetic; = to work out 7a at Phrasal verbs 1. Cf. worked adj. 5. Now rare.

1582   J. Mellis in Record's Grounde of Artes (rev. ed.) iii. iii. sig. Ooiiiiv   To worke the question I bring 3 the Denominator of the Fraction in the second place.
1593   T. Fale Horologiographia f. 25   I worke this altogether like to the South reclining 45.d…untill I have found out the Elevation of the Meridian.
1623   J. Johnson Arithmatick i. ii. 137   A second way more briefly to worke this question.
1667   J. Taylor Semicircle on Sector i. vi. 45 (heading)    How to work proportions in Numbers, Sines, or Tangents, by the Artificial Lines thereof on the outward ledge.
1728   E. Chambers Cycl. at Practice   Certain compendious ways of working the Rule of Proportion.
1803   T. Beddoes Hygëia III. ix. 72   To sit a horse and to work figures by head at the same time.
1852   Thackeray Henry Esmond II. v. 89   The sum comes to the same figures, worked either way.
1885   S. Laing Mod. Sci. & Thought 5   To calculate the distance..with as much ease..as if we were working a simple sum of rule of three.
1920   Jrnl. Exper. Pedagogy 5 216   These sums were worked by girls on the board.

1582—1920(Hide quotations)


 a. intransitive. Of liquor: to undergo fermentation. Also figurative.With figurative use cf. sense 44c.

1570   T. Tymme tr. A. Marlorat Catholike & Eccles. Expos. Mathewe (ix. 17) 185/1   When the newe wyne worketh or spourgeth [L. effervescente], the vessels breake.
1577   B. Googe tr. C. Heresbach Foure Bks. Husbandry iv. f. 183v   The Hony is..suffered to stand vncouered a fewe dayes tyll it haue wrought, and cast vp a loft all his drags.
1606   Returne from Pernassus i. ii. sig. B   Such barmy heads wil alwaies be working.
1673   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 8 6021   About 7 or 8 dayes after the Must hath been thus boyled it begins to work.
a1719   J. Addison Misc. Wks. (1746) I. 30   Meanwhile the tainted juice ferments within And quickens as it works.
c1720   N. Dubois & G. Leoni tr. A. Palladio Architecture II. xiii. 21   The tubs wherein the wine is working.
1821   Scott Kenilworth III. ix. 178   Men's brains are working like yeast.
1857   W. A. Miller Elements Chem. III. ii. §5. 103   The liquid becomes turbid, and small bubbles rise to the surface; or in popular language, it begins to work or to ferment.
1951   R. Postgate Plain Man's Guide to Wine iv. 87   Pétillance occurs when the wine in bottle is still working, and produces some natural gas.
1996   Vancouver Sun (Nexis) 15 Oct. c12   Her approach to wine making is to keep it simple, letting the wine work within the normal time required for fermentation.

1570—1996(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. To subject (liquor) to fermentation; to cause to ferment. Somewhat rare.

1594   H. Plat Jewell House 70   An English trauayler..aduised me to make the same [sc. Malmesey] alwaies about the middest of Maie, that it might haue 3. hot moneths togither to work it to his ful perfection.
a1665   K. Digby Closet Opened (1669) 14   If you would have it sooner ready to drink, you may work it with a little yeast.
1743   E. Moxon Eng. Housewifry (new ed.) 105   To make Balm Wine... When it is cold put a little new yeast upon it, and beat it in every two hours,..so work it for two days.
1865   Art & Myst. making Brit. Wines i. 4   Cover the bung-hole lightly with the bung, so as to admit the air for the better security of working the wine successfully.
2004   C. Coates Wines of Bordeaux i. 327   There is..malolactic fermentation in barrel and the wine is worked on its lees.

1594—2004(Hide quotations)

 7. transitive.

 a. To operate (a machine, apparatus, tool, etc.); to control the operation or functioning of. Also: to provide operating power for; to actuate.

1591   M. Drayton Harmonie of Church sig. D1v   Her left hand to the naile she put, her right the hammer wrought.
1699   J. Drake Antient & Mod. Stages Survey'd 147   Men..are suppos'd to be acted, and workt like Machines by an invisible, irresistible Agent, which winds 'em up like Watches.
1756   C. Lucas Ess. Waters i. 128   Water is raised by a machine,..wrought by an horse.
1791   R. Mylne 2nd Rep. Navigation Thames 15   The Power of the Millers in working their Heads of Water.
1798   S. T. Coleridge Anc. Marinere v, in Wordsworth & S. T. Coleridge Lyrical Ballads 28   The Marineres all 'gan work the ropes.
1853   C. Kingsley Hypatia I. xiii. 261   They are..dead dolls, wooden, worked with wires.
1893   Pall Mall Gaz. 10 Jan. 4/3   The lamps are worked by Lithanode batteries from the stage.
a1923   W. P. Ker Tasso in Ess. (1925) I. 339   The best way of working figures on their stage.
1970   R. Thorp & R. Blake Music of their Laughter 73/1   The guys..were working the closed-circuit TV system.
1999   L. Ramsey Ratcatcher 96   Aw, fur fuck's sake, kin ye no even work a bloody instamatic camera?
2001   Times 7 Mar. ii. 5/1   The key to a good espresso lies in the barista—the man or woman working the machine.

1591—2001(Hide quotations)


 b. To manage or administer (an institution, system, etc.); to direct or be responsible for the operation of; to run. Also: to manage (money). Now rare. Sometimes coloured by sense 10a.

1841   30th Ann. Rep. National Soc. for promoting Educ. of Poor 344   I..could easily pass from one class to another.., and much more effectually work the school on this plan.
1849   Morning Post 26 May 3/3   M. Léon Faucher had not recourse..to a thousand agents to work the elections.
1861   J. S. Mill Considerations Representative Govt. i. 3   No one believes that every people is capable of working every sort of institutions.
1885   ‘Mrs. Alexander’ At Bay ix. 147   Always working her money and my own very cautiously.
1922   G. M. Trevelyan Brit. Hist. 19th Cent. ix. 154   Great noblemen who were also great coalowners, working their own mines.
2004   E. J. Poza Family Business ix. 190   After all, I have been the one working the business for more than 20 years now.

1841—2004(Hide quotations)


8. intransitive. Malting. Of grain: to germinate; = come v. 20b. Obsolete.

1691   T. Tryon New Art Brewing (ed. 2) 49   So soon as it [sc. your Corn] begins to come, or as some calls it Work.
1735   W. Ellis London & Country Brewer I. ii. 9   As soon as it [sc. Corn] begins to come or spire, then turn it.., and as it comes or works more, so must the Heap be spreaded and thinned larger.
1755   Abridgm. Public Statutes Scotl. sig. A7   If any corn..be found working or growing upon the floor before it is put upon the kiln, [etc.].
1835   15th Rep. Commissioners of Inq. Excise Establishm. 14 in Parl. Papers XXXI. 345   To go..quite through the malt-house.., to see how many floors there are; carefully to examine each parcel of corn working on the floors.

1691—1835(Hide quotations)

 II. To bring about or act to bring about.

 9. transitive. To cause, bring about, produce as a result; to accomplish, achieve, attain.Sometimes overlapping with sense 1.See also to work out 1a at Phrasal verbs 1, to work up 3b at Phrasal verbs 1, to work havoc at Phrases 8.Also with direct and indirect object. In Old English also with genitive.

OE   Beowulf (2008) 1387   Wyrce se þe mote domes ær deaþe.
OE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Tiber. B.iv) anno 994   Hi..worhton þa mæstan yfel þe æfre ænig here don meahte on bærnette & hergunge.
lOE   tr. Alcuin De Virtutibus et Vitiis (Vesp.) in R. D.-N. Warner Early Eng. Homilies (1917) 97   Eallinge seo costnunge wyreceð geðyld, & þæt geðyld wyreceð fullfremod weorc.
a1225  (c1200)    Vices & Virtues (1888) 3   Hie is icleped sarinesse, tristicia mortem operante, ‘sarinesse deað wurchende.’
c1350  (a1333)    William of Shoreham Poems (1902) 28 (MED)   Þeȝ he hyȝt cast op, hyt bylefþ Sauuacion to werche Ryȝt þere.
a1375   William of Palerne (1867) l. 1173   Forto wirch me no wrong.
c1430  (c1386)    Chaucer Legend Good Women (Cambr. Gg.4.27) (1879) l. 1696   Fful longe lay the sege & lytil wroughten.
?a1475   Lessons of Dirige (Douce) l. 32 in J. Kail 26 Polit. Poems (1904) 122   So moche woo hit [sc. sin] hath vs wrought.
▸ ?a1513   W. Dunbar Poems (1998) I. 86   He wirkis sorrow to him sell.
c1550   Complaynt Scotl. (1979) xv. 107   Tariand quhil the tyme virk ane bettir chance.
1576   A. Fleming tr. Sulpicius in Panoplie Epist. 39   Whose daggers dinte wrought his dolefull death.
c1600  (c1350)    Alisaunder (Greaves) (1929) 412   With his ferefull folke to Phocus hee rides, And is wilfull in werk to wirchen hem care.
a1626   Bacon Elements Common Lawes (1630) 18   Words are so to bee vnderstood, that they worke somewhat, and bee not idle and frivolous.
1648   T. Gage Eng.-Amer. 200   He replyed, that what Porke might work upon mans body in other Nations, it worked not there.
1724   A. Ramsay Vision in Ever Green I. xxiv   Lat them..stryve to wirk my fall.
1751   Johnson Rambler No. 87. ⁋2   Though good advice was given, it has wrought no reformation.
1841   Dickens Old Curiosity Shop i. xxvi. 239   The beer had wrought no bad effect upon his appetite.
1842   Macaulay Virginia in Lays Anc. Rome 154   Let him who works the client wrong beware the patron's ire!
1877   T. H. Huxley Physiogr. 183   The destruction wrought by the sea.
1912   Ld. Halsbury Laws Eng. XXIV. 250   An alienation by tenant in tail..worked a discontinuance.
1950   G. Sherburn Restoration & 18th Cent. in A. C. Baugh Literary Hist. Eng. ii. viii. 928   He does not deny the existence of evil, but asserts that ultimately evil works God's will.
1990   Sunday Express 11 Feb. (Mag.) 45/3   The ravages wrought upon all living organisms by ‘free radicals’.
2008   Weekly Standard (Nexis) 14 Apr.   Experience in the Israeli army and time in America had worked a change on both.

OE—2008(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. To act in order to bring (something) about; to make (an outcome) happen; to plan, devise, contrive. Also: to manage or contrive (a matter or situation) so as to achieve a particular result. Now chiefly (colloquial) with it as object.In quot. eOE   with that-clause as object.

eOE   Metres of Boethius (partly from transcript of damaged MS) (2009) xx. 87   Is þæt wundorlic..þæt ðu mid geþeahte þinum wyrcest þæt ðu þæm gesceaftum swa gesceadlice mearce gesettest, and hi ne mengdest [read hi gemengdest] eac.
c1300  (?c1225)    King Horn (Laud) (1901) 288 (MED)   Wat reymnyld wroute Mikel wonder him þoute.
c1390  (a1376)    Langland Piers Plowman (Vernon) (1867) A. ii. l. 85   Such Weddyng to worche to [wraþþe] with truþe.
1561   T. Hoby tr. B. Castiglione Courtyer ii. sig. M.i   He ought to worke the matter wisely.
1621   J. Taylor Unnaturall Father in Wks. (1630) ii. 137/2   He resolued to worke some meanes to take away their..liues.
1630   R. Norton tr. W. Camden Hist. Princesse Elizabeth i. 94   The Conspiratours so wrought the matter, that very many of the Nobility assented to the marriage.
1647   C. Cotterell & W. Aylesbury tr. E. C. Davila Hist. Civill Warres France i. 38   The Cardinal..ardently wrought their destruction..in publike discourse and private meetings.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost i. 646   To work in close design, by fraud or guile What force effected not.  
1761   Mod. Part Universal Hist. XXXII. vii. 209   She wrought matters so with Albert of Brunswick, that he interested himself in her release.
1836   T. C. Haliburton Clockmaker xxxi. 201   As soon as he can work it, he marries the richest gall in all his flock.
1884   R. Hart Let. 4 June in J. K. Fairbank et al. I. G. in Peking (1975) 551   He struck in at an opportune moment and worked the matter well.
1889   E. Dowson Let. 1 Mar. (1967) 42   If you can possibly work it meet me somewhere to-morrow.
1914   Bookseller 1 Jan. 10/2   This one gets the trade and for awhile works the situation to his advantage.
1961   P. G. Wodehouse Service with Smile xi. 200   Uncle Fred, did you work this?
1986   Toronto Star (Nexis) 26 Dec. c10   Woody..always managed to work things so that he won the girl.
1992   A. J. Lewis Love Story in Shakespearean Comedy vi. 169   He..works matters so that it is he who is incarcerated.
2000   J. J. Connolly Layer Cake 208   They work it so James thought he'd brought off a coup de grâce.

eOE—2000(Hide quotations)


b. intransitive. To act for a specified purpose, or so as to achieve a specified end; to plan, plot; to contrive, manage. Chiefly with to-infinitive or that-clause. Obsolete (archaic in later use).Sometimes passing into sense 12.

a1393   Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) i. l. 626   How he can werche Among tho wyde furred hodes, To geten hem the worldes goodes.
c1405  (c1395)    Chaucer Merchant's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) l. 417   God..may so for yow werche That..Ye may repente of wedded mannes lyf.
1488  (c1478)    Hary Actis & Deidis Schir William Wallace (Adv.) (1968–9) ii. l. 242   Thai wyrk ay to wayt ws with supprys.
1548   Hall's Vnion: Edward IV f. ccxxxix   Se how politikely the French kyng wrought for his aduantage.
1623   Shakespeare & J. Fletcher Henry VIII iii. ii. 312   Without the Kings assent or knowledge, You wrought to be a Legate.  
a1674   Milton Brief Hist. Moscovia (1682) v. 91   The Chancellor, with others of the great ones..so wrought, that a creature of their own was sent to meet Sir Jerom.
1887   W. Morris tr. Homer Odyssey I. xii. 230   So wrought the Father of Gods and of Men that I was not seen.

a1393—1887(Hide quotations)

 11. Chiefly with to-infinitive or for.

 a. intransitive. To strive or endeavour strenuously to accomplish something or achieve some end. Cf. labour v. 4a.

c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) Matt. Prol. 1   To vs forsothe it was to stodye of preuynge, bothe to take the feith of thing do, and not to be stille to men sechynge bisiliche the ordynance of God worchynge to be vndirstonde.
a1475   in R. H. Robbins Secular Lyrics 14th & 15th Cent. (1952) 134 (MED)   Furst when I yowe chese, To wyn youre loue euer I have wroȝte.
a1500  (a1400)    Wyclif Eng. Wks. (1880) 352 (MED)   He is frend to þe frere þat hatiþ þus his synne & worchiþ to distrie it.
a1616   Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 1 (1623) iii. vii. 27   Your Honors shall perceiue how I will worke, To bring this matter to the wished end.  
1742   J. Campbell Lives Admirals I. xii. 389   By every Method possible they worked to disappoint him.
1754   New & Compl. Dict. Arts & Sci. II. 1237/1   On the breaking out of any fire in London and Westminster, the constables and beadles of parishes shall..assist in extinguishing it, and cause the people to work for that end.
1817   Scott Rob Roy III. vii. 191   Such a deed might make one forswear kin, clan, country, wife, and bairns! And yet the villain wrought long for it.
1891   F. W. Farrar Darkness & Dawn I. xvii. 151   That guilty and intriguing minister of Tiberius..had for years worked on with the deliberate intention of clearing every one of them from his path, and climbing to that throne himself.
1917   Catholic World May 205   He has been constantly working for the advance of Catholic educational interests.
2012   Atlantic Mar. 21/3   Popovic was a student activist in Belgrade working to oust Slobodan Milošević.

c1384—2012(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. To employ or exercise (one's strength, wits, efforts, etc.) in order to accomplish something or achieve some end.

a1413  (c1385)    Chaucer Troilus & Criseyde (Pierpont Morgan) (1881) i. l. 63   The raueshyng to wreken of Eleyne..þei wroughten al hire peyne.
?1567   M. Parker Whole Psalter civ. 293   And he doth make: hys aungels sprites In wyndes and blastes: to worke theyr mightes.
1575   J. Rolland Treat. Court Venus i. f. 15   To mend ye crime yai will wirk all thair mane.
1638   P. Godwin tr. F. de Calvi Hist. Theeves xix. 239   Maillard..whose present wants enforced him to work his wits for a Remedie.
1694   J. Sergeant Hist. Romance Wars Gallieno & Nasonius xviii. 82   The eager Luyslander was working his Brains to compass his design.
1763   J. Spencer tr. L.-C. de Hautefort Surville Mem. Marquis de Hautefort 252   She..had been working her wits all this while, for this very purpose.
1872   Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours 12 426/1   The young chap was working all his might to bowl him out.
1902   R. P. Woodward On Donkey's Hurricane Deck ii. 23   Working my wits in a multitude of ways to keep my ship from stranding and the crew from starving.
2002   N. Minhas Chapatti or Chips? xxxiv. 276   The two worked their brains real hard trying to get real.

a1413—2002(Hide quotations)

 III. To labour, toil.
 12. intransitive.

 a. To perform physical or mental labour; to exert oneself for a definite purpose, esp. in order to produce something or to earn a living; to perform a task or tasks; to toil, labour.

eOE   King Ælfred tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (Otho) (2009) I. xxxii. 536   Hwy sceall þonne ænig mon bion idel ðæt he ne wyrce?
OE   West Saxon Gospels: Matt. (Corpus Cambr.) xxi. 28   Ga & wyrce todæg on minum wingerde.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 71   Heom wære bætere þæt heo wrohton alle dæȝ on þam halȝan restandæȝ.
?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 36   Lokeð..þet ȝe ne beon neauer idel. Ach wurchen oðer reden. oðer beon ibeoden.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) 4344   Þer worhten sweines, þer worðten þeines, & þe king mid his honden..wurhte ful swiðe.
c1330  (?c1300)    Bevis of Hampton (Auch.) 58 (MED)   Me lord is olde & may nouȝt werche.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 6843   Sex dais sal yee wirc,..And yee sal rest þe seuend dai.
c1400  (?c1380)    Pearl l. 525   Þay wente in to þe vyne and wroȝte.
c1449   R. Pecock Repressor (1860) 342   Poul..wrouȝte with hise hondis forto haue his lijflode to preche.
a1513   H. Bradshaw Lyfe St. Werburge (1521) ii. x. sig. p.i   A woman which..sabbot day dyd violate Unlaufully wurkynge.
1546   J. Heywood Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue i. xi. sig. Eiiiv   As good plai for nought as work for nought.
c1595   Capt. Wyatt in G. F. Warner Voy. R. Dudley to W. Indies (1899) 50   Our men wrought dalie to hoyse aborde all such goodes.
1621   T. Granger Familiar Expos. Eccles. xii. i. 315   We must worke with the Oare while we haue strength, and after sit at the sterne.
a1633   G. Herbert Outlandish Prov. (1640) sig. A7v   Thinke of ease, but worke on.
1708   J. Collier Eccl. Hist. Great Brit. I. ii. 113/2   If a Slave is forc'd to work upon the Sunday by his Master's Order, let him be manumiz'd.
1789   J. Woodforde Diary 30 July (1927) III. 126   The latter was..working in his garden in his Shirt Sleeves.
1866   J. Ruskin Crown Wild Olive i. 40   Our third condition of separation, between the men who work with the hand, and those who work with the head.
1879   J. Lubbock Sci. Lect. ii. 34   Ants work not only all day, but in warm weather often all night too.
1946   M. Lowry Let. Nov. in Sursum Corda! (1995) I. 650   We have been working night and day and have nearly finished corrections.
1959   F. Astaire Steps in Time (1960) iii. 22   We..just needed to keep working and practising to become smoother and more professional.
2010   Cosmopolitan (U.K. ed.) Feb. 36/1   I knuckled down, determined to work hard instead of drinking and partying.

eOE—2010(Hide quotations)


 b. With at, on, upon (formerly occasionally †of), specifying a particular task or object.

OE   tr. Chrodegang of Metz Regula Canonicorum (Corpus Cambr. 191) xxxii. 237   And æfter underntide hæbbon heora capitul, and æfter þam wyrce on [þam] þæt him gedafenlic sy [L. faciant quod congruum fuerit], oððe on gebedum oððe on rædinge oððe on weorce.
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) anno 1110   Ðises geares me began ærost to weorcenne on þam niwan mynstre.
?a1160   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) (Peterborough contin.) anno 1137   Martin abbot..wrohte on þe circe & sette þarto landes & rentes & goded it suythe.
?c1200   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 16283   Swa þeȝȝ stodenn..To wirrkenn o þe temmple.
c1400  (▸1375)    Canticum Creatione l. 1058 in C. Horstmann Sammlung Altengl. Legenden (1878) 137   A temple gan he [sc. Dauid]..And þeron with glade chere Dede worchen foure & twenty ȝere.
1497   in M. Oppenheim Naval Accts. & Inventories Henry VII (1896) 324   Certeyn Shipwryghtes that wrought of the seid Ship.
1560   Bp. J. Pilkington Aggeus the Prophete (new issue) sig. Dd.iiii   The people of God nowe goynge diligently about to buylde the Lordes house, and woorkyng at it now three full monoethes.
1612   J. Davies Muses Sacrifice sig. A3v   That proud Pyramed..Whereon, three-hundred-threescore-thousand wrought full twenty Yeeres.
1623   W. Lisle in tr. Ælfric Saxon Treat. Old & New Test. Pref.   A sentence of Hesiod so commendable, that..Livie in that [Oration] of Minutius hath it well and diversly wrought-on.
1687   M. Prior & Earl of Halifax Hind & Panther Transvers'd 12   Vulcan working at the Anvil.
1712   J. James tr. A.-J. Dézallier d'Argenville Theory & Pract. Gardening 205   Some Basons have been worked upon several times, without being able almost to make them hold Water.
1796   E. Burke Let. Dec. in Corr. (1844) IV. 401   If I had youth and strength, I would go myself over to Ireland to work on that plan.
1840   G. Godwin Last Day i. 5   How hard some folks do work at what they call pleasure.
1853   Dickens Bleak House xviii. 177   The little [church-] porch, where a monotonous ringer was working at the bell.
1893   H. P. Liddon et al. Life E. B. Pusey I. v. 96   Pusey..spent from fourteen to sixteen hours a day working at Arabic.
1947   D. Thomas Let. Jan. in Sel. Lett. (1966) 292   I also worked upon the preliminary roughing-out of the script with Taylor.
1968   Daily Tel. 12 Nov. 16/2   Young people who work at clearing slag heaps, helping meths-drinkers or cleaning canals to make them navigable.
2012   Observer 18 Mar. (New Review section) 11/1   She is currently working on a masters degree in astrophysics.

OE—2012(Hide quotations)


 c. With in or with, specifying a particular material.

a1393   Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) ii. l. 1850 (MED)   To worche in latoun and in bras He lerneth for his sustienance.
?1473   Caxton tr. R. Le Fèvre Recuyell Hist. Troye (1894) I. lf. 26v   Than Iupiter began to lerne spynne and to werke in the silke.
1474   Caxton tr. Game & Playe of Chesse (1883) iii. iii. 93   Thise..ben named drapers..for so moche as they werke wyth wolle.
1538   T. Elyot Dict.   Plasma, the warke of a potter, or of hym that worketh in erthe.
1539   Bible (Great) Isa. xix. 9   They that worke in flaxe.
1604   E. Grimeston tr. J. de Acosta Nat. & Morall Hist. Indies iv. vi. 223   The veine of Tinne..is..rough and very painfull to worke in.
1656   T. Blount Glossographia   Configulate, to play the Potter, to work in clay.
1726   G. Leoni tr. L. B. Alberti Archit. III. 28   Those that work in wax, stuc or clay.
1759   R. Smith Harmonics (ed. 2) viii. 176   Any man who works true in brass may easily apply it [sc. this mechanism]..to any harpsichord ready made.
1825   J. Smith Mechanic (ed. 7) II. 288   It is simple and easy to cut a good screw. Any one, who works in metal, can make the tool.
1869   C. Boutell tr. J. P. Lacombe Arms & Armour ii. 38   The Greeks of that age..were able to temper it [sc. iron], and they had actually commenced working in it.
1979   Jrnl. Econ. Hist. 39 516   British prefabricators, whether working with wood, corrugated iron, or cast iron, had established the basic elements of industrialized building.
2002   M. Rendell Kings of Mountains (2003) i. 12   Exquisitely-skilled artisans working in wood, leather and bamboo-like guadua.

a1393—2002(Hide quotations)


 a. intransitive. To do one's daily or ordinary business or work; to practise a profession; to pursue a regular occupation; to have a job, be employed.

OE   Ælfric Lives of Saints (Julius) (1900) II. 406   Þu eart æþela cræfta and kynegum þu sceoldest wyrcan.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 174 (MED)   Þe leche ne may naȝt werche mid þe zike bote-yef he yzi his wonde.
c1350   Apocalypse St. John: A Version (Harl. 874) (1961) 154   Þai þat wrouȝtten in þe Cee shullen stonden afer whan þai seen þe stede of þe brennyng.
?a1419   in M. Sellers York Memorandum Bk. (1912) I. 181   All boclemakers..to serve and to wyrk to pouer and to riche within this cite.
c1440  (a1350)    Sir Isumbras (Thornton) l. 398   ‘For mete,’ he sayde, ‘I wold wyrke fayne.’
c1450   J. Capgrave Life St. Augustine (1910) 17   Be-neth þat hous..was housyng be þe ground, in whech dwelt coynoures of siluyr, and wroute þere ful bisily.
?1473   Caxton tr. R. Le Fèvre Recuyell Hist. Troye (1894) I. lf. 116   Iupiter..wrought in his science and made his charmes.
c1503   R. Arnold Chron. f. lxiijv/2   Wan ye mone is..in cankro Leone or Libra it is good [to] wurch in trees that bethe newe sprongen.
?1541   R. Copland Guy de Chauliac's Questyonary Cyrurgyens sig. Aiii   And partyculerly Cyrurgery is deuyded in .v. That is to wit to worke in woundes, in appostumes, in sores, and in restoracyons, and in other thynges belongynge to handy operacyon.
1552–3   in A. Feuillerat Documents Office of Revels Edward VI (1914) 130   Taylours woorking by greate or taske woork.
1600   Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream iii. ii. 10   Rude Mechanicals, That worke for bread, vpon Athenian stalles.  
1612   S. Rid Art of Iugling sig. C4   The..matters wherevpon Iuglers worke vpon, and shew their feates.
1676   A. Marvell Mr. Smirke sig. I4v   Did not St. Paul himself, being a Tent-maker,..work of his trade..to get his living?
1704   D. Defoe Giving Alms no Charity 27   'Tis the Men that wont work, not the Men that can get no work, which makes the numbers of our Poor.
1771   O. Goldsmith Hist. Eng. III. 326   He wrought for some days in the habit of a peasant, cutting faggots in a wood.
1785   W. Cowper Tirocinium in Task 456   To work at a vile trade For wages so unlikely to be paid.
1854   H. Miller My Schools & Schoolmasters ii. 34   The farmers for whom he wrought.
1866   ‘G. Eliot’ Felix Holt I. xi. 257   He's one of the Company you work under.
1882   Ballou's Monthly Mag. Sept. 225/1   Mr. E. P. Weeks worked in the mines for some months, and then resumed the more congenial occupation of editing.
1931   Charleston (W. Virginia) Daily Mail 15 June 2/1   Of 3,960 persons listed on the welfare rolls as former Ford employees, one-third never worked there.
1977   National Observer (U.S.) 15 Jan. 14/1   Rina..says she has never wanted to do anything but work with children.
1991   Choice Mar. 55/2   They call it..an old person's pension if you have reached pension age and are still working.
2010   Daily Tel. 23 Dec. 17/1   His father works in finance at New Hall prison.

OE—2010(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. With adverb or noun phrase denoting the length of time or pattern of work. Frequently in to work late : to do one's work until a late hour or (now usually) after one's normal working hours. Cf. to work days at days adv., to work nights at nights adv., to work overtime at overtime adv.

1622   T. Scott Belgicke Pismire 96   Others..are..provoked..to worke early and late, that they may sell as cheape, and make as good worke as the Stranger.
1643   J. Caryl Expos. 3 First Chaps. Iob i. 36   Oh, they have a great many children, and they must rise early and they must worke late.
1792   European Mag. Feb. 92/2   Every day M. de Foureroy worked fourteen hours in his closet.
1835   J. E. Alexander Sketches in Portugal viii. 179   The admiral..worked late and early himself, and made every body under him work.
1888   Rep. State Board Silk Culture Calif. 10   Many times the work in the Secretary's office was so rushed that it was necessary to work evenings.
1920   E. F. Corbett Puritan & Pagan 184   Roger worked long days, thereby involving long days for her.
1922   Jrnl. Amer. Statist. Assoc. 18 107   An unusual proportion of women who have worked part-time.
1967   Jrnl. Pediatrics 70 642/1   He had a butcher shop and worked long hours.
1985   N.Z. Countryman Nov. 17/1   To keep the pot boiling she worked full-time again.
2010   L. Stepp Tell me about Orchard Hollow 15   All this time, I thought he was always working late. How could I have been so stupid?

1622—2010(Hide quotations)


 c. transitive. To do (a job); to be employed in (a specified type of job or number of jobs).

1872   Reynold's Newspaper 7 Apr. 2/5   He had been out of work for five months, and had only been able to earn a shilling now and then by working odd jobs.
1925   Los Angeles Sunday Times 12 July ii. 2/5   They want girls to be fresh and bright, and you can't be when you're working two jobs.
1946   Vidette-Messenger (Valparaiso, Indiana) 8 June 2/6 (heading)    Disabled veterans object to women working night jobs.
1981   Social Service Rev. 55 479   Those without steady work, those working minimum wage, unskilled jobs.
1987   Soldier of Fortune July 12/1   Countless undercover law enforcement officers, most of them working narcotics, face this special kind of gunfight.
1992   B. Gill Death of Love v. 81   You were jumped over many a good local lad who would have worked this job gladly.
2009   J. Bond South Fork Inn iii. 24   Harley had worked two jobs to bring in money for bills and food.

1872—2009(Hide quotations)


 d. intransitive. With out of. To use a place as a base, office, etc., for work.See also to work out of a suitcase at Phrases 15.

1920   Santa Fe Mag. Oct. 84/2   He will work out of Sanson, Texas.
1941   B. Schulberg What makes Sammy Run? xii. 300   She's turned pro... She's working out of Gladys'.
1976   ‘M. Delving’ China Expert i. 12   He had no shop but worked out of the small, comfortable house he had bought.
1994   R. G. Maier Location Scouting & Managem. Handbk. ii. 29   Working out of a car involves its own routines, many of which might seem pretty strange to most office workers, factory workers, and others based indoors.
2007   New Yorker 26 Mar. 63/3   He worked out of a series of rented rooms..relying on his cell phone and his laptop.

1920—2007(Hide quotations)


 e. intransitive. British. To be responsible to a person as one's immediate superior or supervisor; to report to. Also in extended use.

1950   Rep. Commisioners of Prisons 1949 69 in Parl. Papers Cmd. 8088 XVIII. 379   The duties of these psychologists, who will work to the medical officers at remand and trial prisons in their respective groups, will be [etc.]
1961   B. Fergusson Watery Maze xiv. 360   The Forward Officer (Bombardment) working to H.M.S. Roberts was killed with his signaller.
1975   I. Murdoch Word Child 6   I worked to a man called Duncan, now briefly seconded to the Home Office.
2008   E. Hemmingway Into Newsroom v. 109   The staff working to him and to the programme need to share his vision.

1950—2008(Hide quotations)

 14. transitive.

 a. To make (a person or animal) do work; to set to or keep at work; to exact labour from; to employ or use in work.

1389   in R. W. Chambers & M. Daunt Bk. London Eng. (1931) 43   He may werken his broþer.
a1525  (▸1445)    Coventry Leet Bk. (1907) I. 225   What man that wurchithe ony man of the seide craft in contrarie-wyse he shall forfet..x s. to the Towne walle.
1607   G. Markham Cavelarice i. 50   Many good breeders..wil let their Mares after they are quickned, be moderately trauelled or wrought.
a1655   J. Tillinghast Elijah's Mantle (1658) 201   The flesh is like an unruly Beast, which through rest and idleness grows wilde and Masterless, and there is no way to tame him, but by working him hard.
1707   H. Sloane Voy. Islands I. p. clii   The Slaves are usually so well wrought in the day,..that they do not easily awake.
1798   J. Naismith Agric. Clydesdale 123   Some gentlemen have again begun to use oxen for all the purposes of draught. The Right Honourable Lord Douglas always works a few.
1841   R. Oastler Fleet Papers I. 267   Whether it was right to work little boys and girls in the mills, longer than from six o'clock in the morning to six o'clock in the evening, [etc.].
1888   Times 13 Oct. 7/6   The manner in which the hounds should be worked.
1912   G. O. Trevelyan George III & Fox I. vii. 243   The occupants of the best-paid places for the most part were not worked at all.
1978   B. D'J. Pancake in Atlantic Monthly Aug. 57/1   Mom worked me all week making apple butter.
2011   N. Kuznezov Reeds in Wind iv. 282   We were not worked hard.

1389—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. With prepositional phrase or adjective as complement: to bring (a person or animal) into some condition, esp. exhaustion, by hard or intense labour or exertion. Frequently reflexive. to work (a person) to death : to cause (a person) to die through hard work; (hyperbolically) to make (a person) work very hard.

1599   T. Moffett Silkewormes 58   Working themselues to death both night & day, Not for themselues, but others to array.
1628   W. Folkingham Panala Medica x. 72   As Oxen wrought leane, regaine the flesh of young beefes by good pasturage.
1727   A. Hamilton New Acct. E. Indies II. li. 246   He..protested that he would not be accessory to the Destruction of so many Innocents, whom he foresaw, would be wrought and starved to Death.
1797   S. James Narr. Voy. 133   As they justly observed, by working themselves to death, they could but die.
1841   Dickens Old Curiosity Shop ii. xliv. 42   She worked herself to death.
1875   A. Woodbury 2nd Rhode Island Regiment xvi. 239   It was a time of unwonted suffering and privation, and the surgeons were worked to exhaustion.
1919   E. M. Knox Girl of New Day xi. 112   You can be an ‘effective’ if..you refuse to rack yourself to pieces by night, and then work yourself to pieces by day.
1958   ‘S. Miles’ Lettice Delmer 103   Lettice has an urge To work herself so weary that she sleeps Unpricked by guilty thoughts.
1997   Sunday Times 26 Oct. (Mag.) 16/3   You worked yourself into the ground to pay for your wife, Zelda's, psychiatric treatment.
2013   Tweed Border Mail (New S. Wales) (Nexis) 27 Feb. 19   ‘He worked me to death,’ she says. ‘He's a real slave driver.’

1599—2013(Hide quotations)


 c. orig. New Zealand. To use (a dog) to control or herd livestock, esp. sheep. Cf. sense 48b.

1878   E. S. Elwell Boy Colonists 48   Fricker..[was] delighted to shew the ‘new chum’ how to work a cattle dog.
1928   P. T. Kenway Pioneering in Poverty Bay viii. 56   It was said of the Highland shepherd in New Zealand, that he would..work his dogs, getting in stray sheep, every day for a month.
1968   M. M. Johnson Turn of Tide 63   Mr Parkins and Stan were to leave at 3 a.m. for the range, the former working his two dogs and the latter his faithful Pat.
2003   T. Pratchett Wee Free Men iii. 58   Every shepherd on the Chalk went to them, and the very best entered the arena to show how well they could work their dogs.

1878—2003(Hide quotations)

 15. Hunting.

 a. transitive. Esp. of a hunting dog: to hunt or track (game or a scent).

1568   in Archaeologia (1853) 35 207   The Emperore and my Lord wente a hontynge of the hare..and worked xx. hares or theare aboutes.
?1856   F. E. Smedley Harry Coverdale's Courtship iii. 13   He says we've worked them [sc. the rabbits] quite enough.
1888   Times 16 Oct. 10/5   When I tried to work the scent of a deer which had got away.., the hound proved quite useless.
1903   Baily's Mag. Sports & Pastimes Oct. 291/2   A hound that will work a scent in the water is a treasure.
1995   D. M. Warren Small Animal Care & Managem. vii. 103   Although called a spaniel, its method of working game is more like a setter.
2011   J. Ketchum Offspring 54   Some of the dogs would work the scent off the Kaltsas place.

1568—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. Of a hunting dog: to hunt; to track a scent, flush out game, etc.

1828   Sporting Mag. Mar. 339/2   The hounds worked most admirably. No pack of harriers could have hunted closer.
1842   Sportsman Apr. 301   Battue shooting I despise; for..you are deprived of the pleasure of seeing your dogs work.
1874   W. B. Carpenter Princ. Mental Physiol. (1879) i. ii. §3. 104   Young Pointers and Retrievers, when first taken into the field, will often ‘work’ as well as if they had been long well trained.
1907   H. Storey Hunting & Shooting in Ceylon 32   In less than an hour I bagged two hares and a mongoose, the dogs working well and holding the scent without a falter.
2006   M. Rice Swifter than Arrow iii. 90   A pack of hounds would be of greater value in isolating the quarry, than individual hounds working separately.

1828—2006(Hide quotations)


 16. intransitive. To practise as an artist; to paint, draw, sculpt, etc. Also with in: to use a particular artistic medium (cf. sense 12c).

a1616   Shakespeare Timon of Athens (1623) i. i. 201   How lik'st thou this picture?.. Wrought he not well that painted it?
1638   F. Junius Painting of Ancients 102   Exercising his scholars..in the necessary rudiments..before he would suffer them..to worke in colours.
1706   J. Savage tr. R. de Piles Art of Painting 336   He work'd also in Sculpture.
1733   School of Miniature 42   The Instructions..may be of particular Use when you work after Prints,..and they will not be much more unuseful when you begin to copy after Paint.
1786   J. Strutt Biogr. Dict. Engravers II. 422   This artist worked with the graver only.
1875   C. D. E. Fortnum Maiolica iv. 39   He worked about 1550.
1889   R. Beydall Art in Scotl. vii. 125   The students wrought in the academy daily at painting.
1908   F. Simmonds & G. W. Chrystal tr. J. Meier-Graefe Mod. Art I. 178   Corot worked without so many glances at the model.
1999   P. Curtis Sculpture 1900–45 iv. 115   Painters working in the late nineteenth century such as Manet, Degas, and Monet.

a1616—1999(Hide quotations)

 17. Of a train or other public service vehicle.

 a. intransitive. To make regular journeys from place to place, esp. between points of a scheduled route; to ply. Chiefly with between.

1810   Derby Mercury 27 Dec. 1/3   Wm. Judd & Sons Take this Opportunity of returning Thanks to their Friends and the Public in general for the very great encouragement Given to their Boats working between Birmingham and Derby every other Day.
1868   Birmingham Daily Post 2 Oct. 8/3   The train to which the casualty occurred was a ‘local’ train, working between Rugby and Leamington.
1914   Railway Mag. 34 19/1   Some of these [trains], though ranking as expresses and taken by express engines, work to and fro in the manner usually associated with suburban traffic.
1980   K. Warren Fifty Yrs. Green Line i. 12/1 (caption)    This coach was based at Alpha Street, Slough, and worked between Charing Cross and Windsor.
1986   Rail Enthusiast May (Suppl.) p. v/2   It worked down to Edinburgh and that evening headed back towards Newcastle.
2011   Blackmore Vale Mag. (Nexis) 4 Mar. 40   The last steam trains which worked between Yeovil Town and Yeovil Junction Stations.

1810—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. To operate along (a specified route). Also of a railway company: to hold a lease to operate on (a particular line); cf. worked adj. 6.

1835   Mechanics' Mag. 19 Sept. 484   Comparative View of the Great Western and Basing lines... Total mechanical power necessary to work the line both ways.
1869   Bradshaw's Railway Man. 21 86   The Midland..ought not to work the main line.
1902   Encycl. Brit. XXXII. 143/2   A line on this system is worked between Barmen and Elberfeld.
1936   Railway Mag. 78 43/1   The line was worked by the L.M.S.R. and L.N.E.R., having been built..from Kilsyth junction..to Bonny Water junction.
1976   P. R. White Planning for Public Transport viii. 173   The first APTs to enter service will probably work the London–Glasgow run.
1987   Buses Extra Oct. 25/1   During the off-peak season it worked a town route between Swanage Pier and New Swanage, via the railway station.
2007   A. W. Yarsinske Elizabeth River 274   In 1816 the steamboat Powhatan began working the route from Norfolk's harbor to Richmond.

1835—2007(Hide quotations)


 18. intransitive. colloquial. To operate illegally or criminally, esp. as a thief or swindler. In early use also with †upon, specifying a type of criminal activity. Cf. sense 19b.

1819   J. H. Vaux New Vocab. Flash Lang. in Memoirs II. 225   To work upon any particular game, is to practise generally, that species of fraud or depredation, as, He works upon the crack, he follows housebreaking.
1839   H. Brandon Dict. Flash or Cant Lang. in W. A. Miles Poverty, Mendicity & Crime 166/1   Work, to rob, or act in any way according to the divers occupations of thieves, &c.
1865   Leaves from Diary Celebrated Burglar xvi. 55/2   They agreed, upon their discharge, to ‘work’ together.
1882   Sydney Slang Dict. 10/2   We went to the gaff that night and tried to work.
1950   J. Lait & L. Mortimer Chicago Confidential ii. xxx. 256   Criminals work openly and brazenly in Chicago.
1963   T. Tullett Inside Interpol x. 150   Huffman ‘worked’ for a short time in Rome, where he defrauded several shopkeepers.
2011   Tampa (Florida) Tribune (Nexis) 6 Nov. (Baylife section) 1   When shopping at outdoor markets, keep track of your wallet, as these are areas where pickpockets commonly work.

1819—2011(Hide quotations)

 19. transitive. Chiefly colloquial.

 a. To go through or about (a place or area) for the purposes of one's business; to undertake work or do a job in. Also in extended use.

1834   P. Hawker Diary (1893) II. 68   I gave up my bitch..to Joe, to work the enclosures, and he got 5 brace and 1 hare.
1851   H. Mayhew London Labour II. 79/1   I've worked both town and country on gold fish.
1859   J. C. Hotten Dict. Slang 117   To work a street or neighbourhood, trying at each house to sell all one can.
1859   H. Kingsley Recoll. G. Hamlyn xii   Frank Maberly [i.e. a parson] had been..as he expressed it, ‘working the slums’ at Exeter.
1883   Cent. Mag. 26 393   He ‘worked’ the hunting-field largely. It constantly reappears in his novels.
1919   Printers' Ink 28 Aug. 113/1   This stuff was fired in broadsides ahead of the salesman—starting about three weeks before he was due to start working the town.
1965   P. Nichols Patchwork of Death (1967) viii. 41   Do you know how many taxi drivers there are in Paris? And seventy-five per cent of them work the Aerogare.
2000   A. Bourdain Kitchen Confid. (2001) 4   I graduated CIA, knocked around Europe, worked some famous two-star joints in the city.

1834—2000(Hide quotations)


 b. To operate illegally or criminally, esp. as a thief, in (a place or area). Cf. sense 18.

1867   Galaxy Nov. 428   The gangs are organized to ‘work’ particular neighbourhoods.
1882   J. D. McCabe New York 520   Even vessels lying at anchor in the harbor, are busily worked by [thieves].
1938   F. D. Sharpe Sharpe of Flying Squad xvi. 181   They [sc. pickpockets] used to go off in busloads..to ‘work’ various districts of London.
1951   W. C. Williams Autobiogr. xlv. 299   He had been a fur thief working the big department stores.
1990   N.Y. Times 25 Dec. 33/2   Crack dealers work the corners: 103d Street and Manhattan Avenue, 104th and Columbus.
2006   Straits Times (Singapore) (Nexis) 8 Aug.   Other pickpockets work the trains and buses.

1867—2006(Hide quotations)


 c. orig. U.S. To operate as a prostitute in (a place or area). Esp. in to work the streets : (of a prostitute) to work on the streets, rather than in a brothel, etc.; (hence simply) to be a prostitute.

1939   Amer. Jrnl. Sociol. 44 547   She may work in a ‘call house’... Or, in a city where the racket is unorganized, she may ‘work the streets’.
1945   Moorhead (Minnesota) Daily News 29 Sept. 1/1   Typical is an 18-year-old blonde known as ‘China Doll’. She has been working the bars since she was 13 to support herself and her mother.
1974   D. Goines Daddy Cool x. 143   Every time she hit the streets, one or the other of the officers would be harassing her... She wouldn't be able to work the streets here any longer.
1995   Daily Mail (Nexis) 3 July 32   A blond rent-boy who worked the red-light area of Kings Cross.
2004   Hope July 21/1   She hadn't spent time in juvenile hall, been homeless, worked the streets, or sold drugs.

1939—2004(Hide quotations)


 20. transitive. To exercise (a part of the body), esp. so as to build or tone muscle.

1959   Muscle Power Nov. 40/3   When you work your muscles extra hard and break down an extra large number of cells, your body does more than repair and replace these... This is known as overcompensation in physiological circles and is actually the secret of muscular growth.
1983   Chron.-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) 12 Jan. b8/6   You should use exercises that work your biceps.
1990   Amer. Health Nov. 84 (advt.)    With NordicRow TBX, you don't just work your legs.., but you tone and strengthen all the major muscles in your upper and lower body.
2005   Men's Health (UK ed.) June 33/2   Josh Beck..suggests working your abs and obliques with crunches and side raises.

1959—2005(Hide quotations)

 IV. To make, create, produce.
 21. transitive.

 a. To produce (a material thing) by, or as by, labour or exertion; to make, construct, manufacture; to form, fashion. In later use somewhat archaic (usually in past tense or past participle in form wrought).Usually with reference to the creation of man-made objects, but sometimes with reference to an animal, natural process, etc.Sometimes with implications of artistic or ornamental workmanship, and passing into sense 26.

OE   Beowulf (2008) 1452   Swa hine [sc. the helmet] fyrndagum worhte wæpna smið, wundrum teode, besette swinlicum.
c1175  (▸OE)    Homily: Hist. Holy Rood-tree (Bodl. 343) (1894) 22   Ða het he wurcean ænne sealfrene hop of þrittiȝæ pundon.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 11433   Ich þe wulle wurche [c1300 Otho wirche] a bord..þat þer maȝen sitten to sixtene hundred & ma.
c1325   in G. L. Brook Harley Lyrics (1968) 39   Hit is wonder wel ywroht.
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1961) Num. viii. 4   Moises..worouȝte [read wrouȝte] þe candelstyk.
a1475   in F. J. Furnivall Polit., Relig., & Love Poems (1903) 271   A bok..Þat men callyt an abece, Pratylych I-wrout.
1513   G. Douglas in tr. Virgil Æneid xii. Prol. 138   Quharof the beis wrocht thar hunny sweit.
1545   R. Ascham Toxophilus ii. f. 6v   Some of them, whych..worke ye kinges Artillarie for war.
1572  (a1500)    Taill of Rauf Coilȝear (1882) 266   To ane preuie Chalmer..thay him led, Quhair ane burely bed was wrocht.
1584   T. Cogan Hauen of Health lxxxiii. 77   The liuer..is the place where all the humors of the bodie are first wrought.
1610   P. Holland tr. W. Camden Brit. i. 196   This by-word..Hengston downe well ywrought,..Is worth London deere ybought.
1698   A. Fletcher Two Disc. Affairs Scotl. 22   The furniture of their houses..was for the most part wrought by their Slaves.
1742   D. Hume Ess. Moral & Polit. II. ii. 13   A hundred Cabinet-makers in London can work a Table or a Chair equally well.
1791   W. Cowper tr. Homer Iliad in Iliad & Odyssey I. xvi. 272   A goblet exquisitely wrought.
1817   J. Evans Excursion to Windsor 258   A public road, beneath which is worked a path conducting to a fine lawn.
1850   H. T. Cheever Whale & his Captors i. 24   Whether the first..whaling harpoon used in America was wrought there.
1864   J. Hunt tr. C. Vogt Lect. on Man x. 269   The [flint] instruments of oval shape have been mostly worked by gentle blows.
1911   Arts & Decoration Mar. 221/3   The utility of the graceful and pliable willow furniture wrought by hand.
2007   1000 Events that shaped World (Nat. Geogr. Soc.) 17/1   The earliest known recognizable stone tools wrought by the hand of hominins date back to about 2.6 m.y.a. [= million years ago].

OE—2007(Hide quotations)


 b. Of God: to create (a person, the world, etc.). Also in passive with the agent unspecified. Now rare (in later use archaic and usually in past tense or past participle in form wrought).

OE (Northumbrian)   Lindisf. Gospels: Matt. xix. 4   Qui fecit ab initio masculum et feminam fecit eos : seðe worohte from fruma woepenmonn & wifmonn geworhte hia [OE West Saxon Gospels: Corpus he worhte wæpmann & wifmann].
OE   Beowulf (2008) 92   Se Ælmihtiga eorðan worhte.
OE   Exodus 22   He him gesægde..hu þas woruld worhte witig drihten, eorðan ymbhwyrft and uprodor.
c1175  (▸OE)    Ælfric's Homily on Nativity of Christ (Bodl. 343) in A. O. Belfour 12th Cent. Homilies in MS Bodl. 343 (1909) 80   Gif nu sum sot wæneð þat he [sc. God] wrohte [OE Julius geworhte] hine sylfne, þenne axie we him hu þe heofenlice God hine sylfen wrohte.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Katherine (Bodl.) (1981) 134   Nis buten an Godd,..þet al þe world wrahte.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 373   He wroght apon þe toþer day þe firmament.
c1450  (▸1369)    Chaucer Bk. Duchess (Fairf. 16) (1871) l. 90   Alas (quoth shee) that I was wrought.
a1550  (c1441)    Lament Duchess of Gloucester (Balliol) in T. Wright Polit. Poems & Songs (1861) II. 205   Alle women that in this world be wrowght.
1568  (a1500)    Freiris Berwik 343 in W. T. Ritchie Bannatyne MS (1930) IV. 271   Quhat sall I do allace þat I wes wrocht.
c1595   Countess of Pembroke Psalme cxlv. 29 in Coll. Wks. (1998) II. 246   All creatures thou hast wrought..shall their creator sound.
c1639   W. Mure Psalmes viii. 3 in Wks. (1898) II. 66   The moone, the twinckling starrs..Works, by thy finger wroght.
1648   Bp. J. Hall Breathings Devout Soul xix. 29   The less I can satisfie my self with marvailing at thy works, the more let me adore the majesty and omnipotence of thee that wroughtest them.
1859   Freewill Baptist Q. Apr. 148   The better we understand the formation of the earth,..the more will the conclusion be forced upon us that there is no chance about it, but that God has wrought it all.
1988   E. J. Bickerman Jews in Greek Age iii. xxv. 292   Nothing exists unless it was wrought by God.

OE—1988(Hide quotations)


 c. To construct, build (a building or other structure). Now rare (in later use archaic and usually in past tense or past participle in form wrought).

OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 1st Ser. (Royal) (1997) i. 185   Ða cwædon hi betwux him þæt hi woldon wircan ane burh.
OE   Genesis A (1931) 1302   Ongyn þe scip wyrcan, merehus micel.
c1175  (▸OE)    Homily: Hist. Holy Rood-tree (Bodl. 343) (1894) 22   Ða wæs ðam wurhtan ðe ðæt weorc wrohtæn wone anes beames.
c1330   Gregorius (Auch.) 218   Chirches chapels boþe y same Werche sche dede þurch Godes wille.
a1500  (?c1300)    Bevis of Hampton (Chetham) 3685   Beues dyd wyrke Abbeys, mynesters, and meny a kirke.
1508   Golagros & Gawane (Chepman & Myllar) sig. aiiv   Weill wroght wes the wall And payntit with pride.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost x. 300   They..the Mole immense wraught on Over the foaming deep high Archt.  
a1701   H. Maundrell Journey Aleppo to Jerusalem (1703) 18   An old Bridge..exceeding well wrought.
1735   J. Price Some Considerations Stone-bridge Thames 7   Scaffolds for working the said Piers from Bottom to Top.
1747   W. Gould Acct. Eng. Ants 12   Their [sc. ants'] double Saw, by means whereof they work their Apartments.
1876   W. Morris Story of Sigurd i. 1   Earls were the wrights that wrought it [sc. a house].
1910   F. Ferrero Valley of Aosta iii. iii. 264   Those walls, wrought by hands of men unknown.

OE—1910(Hide quotations)


 d. With of, out of, in, specifying the material used or the component parts. Now archaic (usually in passive in form wrought).

OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 1st Ser. (Royal) (1997) i. 181   God..cwæð þæt he wolde wyrcan mannan of eorðan.
OE   Blickling Homilies 127   Swylce eac syndon on þære myclan cirican..ehta eagþyrelu swiþe mycele of glæse geworht.
OE   West Saxon Gospels: John (Corpus Cambr.) ii. 15   He worhte swipan of strengon.
?c1200   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 15182   Nollde nohht te laferrd crist..Hemm wirrkenn win inoh off nohht...Acc wollde off waterr wirrkenn win.
c1275  (?a1216)    Owl & Nightingale (Calig.) (1935) l. 408   Ȝif he isiþ þat þu nart areȝ, He wile of bore wrchen bareȝ.
c1390  (?c1350)    Joseph of Arimathie (1871) l. 204   A newe chaumbre-wouh wrouȝt al of bordes.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 22804 (MED)   He þat dos flexs worth in to lame, O lam mai wirc flessli licam.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Trin. Cambr.) l. 21048   Ion..dude miracles as he wel mouȝt; Of treen ȝerdes golde he wrouȝt.
?a1425  (c1400)    Mandeville's Trav. (Titus C.xvi) (1919) 141   In the myddes of this palays is the mountour for the grete Cane þat is all wrought of gold & precyous stones.
1567   Compend. Bk. Godly Songs (1897) 131   O Lord, quhilk wrocht all thingis of nocht.
1596   Raigne of Edward III sig. E2v   Their streaming Ensignes wrought of coulloured silke.  
1610   P. Holland tr. W. Camden Brit. i. 681   Good milstones are wrought out of the rocke.
1709   A. Philips To Earl of Dorset 34   Every shrub, and every blade of grass, And every pointed thorn, seem'd wrought in glass.
1796   Archaeologia 12 170   The mouldings are worked in stone, and are in good preservation.
1842   S. Lover Handy Andy xl. 312   Various ornaments..wrought in the purest gold.
1877   T. H. Huxley Physiogr. 206   Forty-six noble columns, some wrought in granite and some in marble.
1954   J. R. R. Tolkien Two Towers iv. ix. 327   They walked as it were in a black vapour wrought of veritable darkness itself.
2013   Hull Daily Mail (Nexis) 4 May 16   A Corkscrew-esque roller coaster wrought out of gerberas and hydrangeas.

OE—2013(Hide quotations)


 22. transitive. To make, produce, create (an immaterial thing). Now archaic and rare except as passing into sense 9.

OE   West Saxon Gospels: Matt. (Corpus Cambr.) xii. 14   Þa sundorhalgan eodun þa ut soþlice & worhton [L. faciebant] geþeaht ongen hyne hu hi hyne forspildon.
lOE   King Ælfred tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (Bodl.) (2009) I. xxxviii. 350   Ða ongunnon lease men wyrcan spell and sædon þæt hio sceolde mid hire drycræft[um] þa men forbredan.
c1300   St. Dominic (Laud) l. 152 in C. Horstmann Early S.-Eng. Legendary (1887) 282   Huy weren, ase god wolde, in o consent i-brouȝt, And eiþur dude bi oþeres rede, and þeos tweie ordres wrouȝte, Of frere prechours and of frere Menores.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 29326   All þaa þat wirkes Laus gain right of hali kirkes.
1440   J. Capgrave Life St. Norbert (1977) l. 1918   Here and þere himselue he gan to seche, With lesinggis among, as his maistir him tawt; Ȝet wondir termes to him hatȝ he rawt.
1642   H. More Ψυχωδια Platonica sig. N8v   What's gnawing conscience from impietie By highest parts of humane soul ywrought?
1643   R. Baker Chron. Kings of Eng. i. 53   Gratefulnesse and naturall affection, meeting together, must needes worke something in the minde of a Brother.
1721   M. Prior Predestination in Wks. (1907) II. 351   Are not the Texture of our Actions wrought By something inward that directs our thought?
a1771   T. Gray Stanzas to Mr. R. Bentley in Mem. (1775) 227   Each dream, in fancy's airy colouring wrought.
1912   Pop. Mech. Oct. 557/1   We listen to the sublime music wrought by a master touch on violin or piano.

OE—1912(Hide quotations)


23. transitive. With adjective, adverbial phrase, or prepositional phrase as complement: to make or cause to be or become what is expressed by the complement. Obsolete.

OE   Wulfstan Sermo ad Anglos (Nero) (1957) 271   And oft þræl þæne þegen þe ær wæs his hlaford cnyt swyþe fæste & wyrcð him to þræle þurh Godes yrre.
OE   West Saxon Gospels: Matt. (Corpus Cambr.) xxi. 13   Min hus ys gebedhus, witodlice ge worhtun þæt to þeofa cote.
OE   Paris Psalter (1932) lxxxviii. 27   Ic to widan feore wyrce syððan þin heahsetl hror and weorðlic swa heofones dagas her mid mannum.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 9350   His lond þu forbernest & hine blæð wurchest.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Coll. Phys.) l. 24088   Þat wroht me out of wite.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 13824   He þat me hal has wroght.
a1500  (a1400)    Sir Cleges (Adv.) (1930) l. 342   Thys sawe i neuer.., Syn i was man wrowȝt.
▸ ?a1513   W. Dunbar Ballat Passioun in Poems (1998) I. 37   Ordane for him ane resting place, That is so werie wrocht for the.
c1540  (?a1400)    Gest Historiale Destr. Troy (2002) f. 138   Mony woundet þat worthy & wroght vnto dethe.
1623   Shakespeare & J. Fletcher Henry VIII ii. ii. 47   We had need pray..for our deliuerance; Or this imperious man will worke vs all From Princes into Pages.  
1639   J. Saltmarsh Pract. Policie 43   If you suspect the performance of a promise, worke them obliged by some speciall engagement and pawne.

OE—1639(Hide quotations)


24. transitive. To make (a friend or enemy). Obsolete.In Old English also with genitive.

OE   Ælfric Homily (Trin. Cambr. B.15.34) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1968) II. 548   Wyrcað eow freonda of ðam unrihtan welan, þæt hy underfon eow on eowrum forðsiþe to him on ðam ecum eardungstowum eft.
lOE   King Ælfred tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (Bodl.) (2009) I. xxiv. 291   Mid þissum woruldgesælðum and mid þis andweardan welan mon wyrcð oftor feond þonne freond.
a1225  (?a1200)    MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 41 (MED)   Mid mede man mai ouer water faren, And mid weldede of giue frend wuerche.

OE—a1225(Hide quotations)

 25. transitive.

 a. To make (a fabric, garment, etc.); to weave, spin, sew, knit, etc. Now chiefly: to embroider (a garment, tapestry, etc.). Also in figurative contexts. Cf. work n. 17.

eOE   tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (Tanner) iv. xxvi. 354   Hio smaelo hrægel weofað & wyrcað [L. texendis subtilioribus indumentis], mid ðæm hio..hio siolfe frætwað in bryda onlicnesse.
OE   Ælfric Lives of Saints (Julius) (1881) I. 224   Æteowigende him þa reaf and þa gerenodan tunecan, þe Thabitas him worhte ær þan þe heo gewite.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 377   Two pilches weren ðurg engeles wrogt.
a1400   in K. W. Engeroff Untersuchung ‘Usages of Winchester’ (1914) 50   Non of þe Citee ne shal don werche qwyltes ne chalouns by-þoute þe walles.
c1430  (c1386)    Chaucer Legend Good Women (Cambr. Gg.4.27) (1879) l. 1721   Softe wolle..she wroughte.
a1500   in R. H. Robbins Hist. Poems 14th & 15th Cent. (1959) 170 (MED)   When such cloth ys all ywrowte, To the maker it waylyth lytyll or nowȝtte.
1558   R. Gray Let. 19 Feb. in R. Hakluyt Princ. Navigations (1599) II. i. 303   All our olde hempe is spunne and wrought in tenne cables..and thirteene Hausers.
1594   Shakespeare Venus & Adonis (new ed.) sig. Gv   Now she vnweaues [printed veweaues] the web that she hath wrought.
a1616   Shakespeare King John (1623) iv. i. 43   My hand-kercher..(The best I had, a Princesse wrought it me).  
1651   W. Davenant Gondibert ii. xxviii   These belts (wrought with their ladies' care).
1676   G. Carew Fraud & Oppress. detected & Arraigned 65   A quantity of Wool..was wrought into Cloath fit for Exportation.
1748   B. Robins & R. Walter Voy. round World by Anson ii. ii. 135   To unlay a cable to work into running rigging.
1768   L. Sterne Sentimental Journey I. 162   She was working a pair of ruffles.
1785   W. Cowper Task i. 33   A splendid cover..of tapestry richly wrought.
1839   A. Ure Dict. Arts 654   In the weaving of ribbed hosiery, the plain rib courses are wrought alternately.
1849   Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. vii. 174   The princess, who had been educated only to work embroidery, to play on the spinet, [etc.].
1868   L. M. Alcott Little Women I. vi. 93   I'm going to work Mr. Laurence a pair of slippers.
1967   E. Short Embroidery & Fabric Collage iv. 94   The firm also sold ready traced materials and supplied the threads for working them.
1973   E. Wilson Embroidery Bk. (1975) ii. 142   When you are working a large rug, a square frame..is a tremendous help.
1997   I can't believe I'm Knitting! 25/1   When working a striped ribbing, little ‘nubs’ of color appear on the right side.
2009   M. Stewart Punchneedle ii. 34 (caption)    A pillow worked with a #6 punchneedle.

eOE—2009(Hide quotations)


 b. In passive. Of a garment, piece of fabric, etc.: to be embroidered with a particular design, figure, pattern, etc. Formerly also with †upon, †about.

a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1874) V. 445   He fenge a scherte, som þerof was i-wrouȝt wiþ gold [?a1475 anon. tr. over gilte, L. deaurata].
a1425  (?a1400)    Chaucer Romaunt Rose (Hunterian) (1891) l. 897   His garnement was euerydell Portreied and wrought with floures.
1480   Wardrobe Accts. Edward IV in N. H. Nicolas Privy Purse Expenses Elizabeth of York (1830) 115   An hoby harneis..enbrowdered and wroght with ageletts of silver and gilt.
1539   Bible (Great) Psalms xlv. 10   A vesture of gold (wrought about with dyuerse colours).
1575   in Archaeologia (1844) 30 12   Sixe quyshions, wrought withe my L. [= Lord's] armes.
a1586   Sir P. Sidney Arcadia (1590) ii. xxii. sig. Cc8v   Her apparrell of white, wrought upon with broken knots.
1590   in Archaeologia (1884) 48 154   One dammaske table clothe wrought with ye Spreed Egle.
1687   A. Lovell tr. J. de Thévenot Trav. into Levant i. 56   They wear this Cap..with a Handkerchief of fine stuff, wrought with flowers of Gold and Silk.
1792   Northampton Merc. 20 Dec.   The ladies now wear the lappets to their gauze heads worked with aces of spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.
1842   Tennyson Audley Court in Poems (new ed.) II. 43   A damask napkin wrought with horse and hound.
1893   Churchman 18 Feb. 233/1   In the first Christian era, altar cloths, church curtains and all priestly vestments were wrought with holy images.
1916   Home Needlework Mag. Aug. 15/1   The pieces shown are all worked with the same daisy motif.
1993   B. Harvey Living & Dying in Eng., 1100–1540 v. 167   The abbot's house..boasted a feather bed and a coverlet worked with flowers.
2001   L. T. Ulrich Age of Homespun iii. 116   The earliest samplers were..elongated pieces of linen worked with a succession of motifs.

a1387—2001(Hide quotations)


 c. To embroider (a design, figure, or pattern). Cf. sense 26.

a1425  (?a1400)    Chaucer Romaunt Rose (Hunterian) (1891) l. 895   Nought clad in silk was he But all in floures and in flourettes And with losynges and scochouns With briddes lybardes and lyouns And other beestis wrought ful well.
1588   T. Deloney Queenes visiting Tilsburie (single sheet)    The famous Armes of England, wrought with rich imbroidered gold.
1609   P. Holland tr. Ammianus Marcellinus Rom. Hist. xvi. v. 63   Dragons, wrought with woufe of purple thred,..leaving their winding tailes to wift in the wind.
1610   P. Holland tr. W. Camden Brit. i. 207   The Danes bare in their Ensigne a Raven wrought..in needle-worke.
1781   London Mag. Oct. 487/2   The number may be neatly wrought on silk buttons.
1841   Mrs R. Hart Fancy-work Bk. 18   To work patterns drawn on canvas.
1859   J. Brown Horæ Subs. (1861) 1st Ser. 286   Working her name on the blankets.
1883   D. C. Murray Hearts (1885) ix. 65   The maxims you cherish would have served..for your grandmother to work on samplers.
1922   J. Joyce Ulysses ii. 313   A dainty motif of plume rose being worked into the pleats in a pinstripe.
1961   Embroidery Autumn 82/1   Her design of a sun was freely worked in gold thread.
2001   Ashmolean Spring 13   The embroideries are usually worked on an undyed linen ground fabric.

a1425—2001(Hide quotations)


 26. transitive. To create (a work of art); to paint, draw, engrave, carve, etc. Also: to represent in a work of art; to portray. Cf. to work up 3b at Phrasal verbs 1. Now somewhat archaic (usually in past tense or past participle in form wrought).

OE   Old Eng. Hexateuch: Exod. (Claud.) xxxii. 35   Hi worhton þæt gyldene cealf & wurþodon hit for god.
OE   Ælfric Homily: De Falsis Diis (Corpus Cambr. 178) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1968) II. 687   Hi worhtan eac anlicnyssa þam arwurþum godum..and þa asmeadan mid cræfte.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 23216   Painted fire..þat apon awagh war wroght.
▸ 1449   J. Metham Amoryus & Cleopes (1916) l. 60   Lettyrrys off gold, that gay were wrowght to the ye.
c1500  (?a1475)    Assembly of Gods (1896) l. 1882   Euery creature On boothe sydes beyng drawyn in small space; So curyously..in so lytell a compace, In all thys world was neuer thyng wrought.
1597   W. Barlow Navigator's Supply sig. H   If these diuisions be wrought vpon Latten plates, [etc.].
1680   J. Moxon Mech. Exercises I. xii. 206   I shall proceed to the working a Pattern or two in Soft Wood.
1692   M. Prior in Gentleman's Jrnl. Feb. 5   Fancies and Notions we pursue, Which ne'er had Being but in thought; And like the doting Artist woo, The Image we our selves have wrought.
1697   Dryden tr. Virgil Æneis v, in tr. Virgil Wks. 337   There, Ganymede is wrought with living Art.
1778   J. Reynolds 7 Disc. Royal Acad. 19   The pictures, thus wrought with such pain, now appear like the effect of enchantment.
1780   Mirror No. 103   A large iron gate, at the top of which the family arms are worked.
1874   J. H. Pollen Anc. & Mod. Furnit. S. Kensington Mus. 129   The ornamental tooling is worked on leather by the bookbinder.
1907   J. Burns Chtist Face in Art x. 141   Portraits wrought with great fidelity but with no attempt at producing an ideal conception.
2011   C. Kittredge Iron Thorn (2012) 147   Each numeral [on the clock] was actually a tiny painting, wrought in delicate ink.

OE—2011(Hide quotations)

27. transitive.

 a. To compose, write (a book, text, etc.). Obsolete.

OE   Blickling Homilies 169   Hwæt sceal ic ðonne ma secgean fram Sancte Iohanne, cwæð se ðe þas boc worhte.
OE   tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (Corpus Oxf.) iii. xiv. 206   Swa ic on þære bec, þe ic worhte de temporibus, swiþe sweotole gecyðde.
?c1200   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 14269   Þatt boc þatt Moysæs. & tatt profetess wrohhtenn.
a1300   in C. Brown Eng. Lyrics 13th Cent. (1932) 68 (MED)   A Mayde cristes me bit yorne þat ich hire wurche a luue-ron.
?a1325   in W. Heuser Kildare-Gedichte (1904) 156   Sikirlich he was a clerk Þat wrochete þis craftilich werk.
?a1400  (a1338)    R. Mannyng Chron. (Petyt) (1996) i. l. 14216   Of Inge sauh I neuer nouht in boke writen ne wrouht.
a1450  (c1386)    Chaucer Legend Good Women (Tanner) (1879) Prol. l. 372   And thogh þat he of malice wolde enditen Despite of loue and had hym-self it wroght.
1565   B. Googe tr. ‘M. Palingenius’ Zodiake of Life (new ed.) vii. sig. Y.ij   So Plato..thought, And so haue many Poets erst, in pleasaunt verses wrought.
1639   J. Woodall Surgeons Mate (rev. ed.) Pref. sig. B5   Who likes, approves, and usefull deemes This work, for him 'tis wrought.
1746   P. Francis & W. Dunkin tr. Horace Satires i. iv. 60   Some therefore ask, can comedy be thought A real poem, since it may be wrought In style and subject without fire or force.

OE—1746(Hide quotations)


 b. To utter (words). Obsolete. rare.

a1425   N. Homily Legendary (Harl. suppl.) in C. Horstmann Altengl. Legenden (1881) 2nd Ser. 30   Þai ditted þaire eris, for þai suld noght Here þir wurdes þat þus war wroght.
a1425  (c1333–52)    L. Minot Poems (1914) 3 (MED)   Philip Valays wordes wroght And said he suld þaire enmys sla.
c1450  (a1425)    Metrical Paraphr. Old Test. (Selden) l. 15639   Ser, for certayn, now thynke me selcowth of þi saw, And þi wordes thynke me wroyȝt in vayn.

a1425—c1450(Hide quotations)


 28. transitive. To inflict (a wound). Now rare (in later use archaic and poetic, and usually in past tense or past participle in form wrought).

eOE   King Ælfred tr. Gregory Pastoral Care (Hatton) (1871) xi. 71   Se wielm ðæs innoðes ut abiersð & wierð to sceabbe, & moniga wunda utane wyrcð [L. foris iam corpus sauciat] mid ðæm won weorcum.
OE   tr. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium (Vitell.) (1984) xc. 130   Wiþ wunda þe mid iserne syn geworhte genim þas..wyrte.
c1450  (?a1400)    Sege Melayne (1880) l. 1522 (MED)   We sall wirke þam wondis full wyde.
a1500  (a1460)    Towneley Plays (1994) I. xxvi. 347   For to anoyntt his woundys sere That Iues hym wroght.
1565   A. Golding tr. Ovid Fyrst Fower Bks. Metamorphosis iv. f. 3   My loue no lesse than thyne Shall geue me force too woorke my wound.
1669   Hist. Sir Eger 11   It was as sicker and sound, As never weapon had wrought me wound.
1837   J. M. Kemble tr. Beowulf xl. 117   He could not by any means work a wound upon the wretch.
1865   New Monthly Mag. Nov. 298   Gerard [was] feverish from a flesh-wound (wrought by the paw of a bear).
1904   L. Binyon Death of Adam 78   To pardon the dear hand that wrought that wound.
1964   K. Kavanaugh & O. Rodriguez tr. St. John of Cross Living Flame of Love in Coll. Wks. 598   O happy wound, wrought by one who knows only how to heal!

eOE—1964(Hide quotations)

 29. transitive.

 a. To form (a hole, groove, etc.) by constant friction or pressure; = wear v.1 12. Also figurative.

1585   J. Banister Wecker's Compend. Chyrurg. i. xxi. 142   Be diligent to spie out the suppuration, lest it being, er you be aware, the matter worke a hollowe.
1642   T. Fuller Holy State v. xv. 418   Some mens souls are not strong enough, but that a weighty secret will work a hole through them.
1693   W. Wake tr. Shepherd. St. Hermas ii, in Genuine Epist. ii. 404   The little Drops falling upon the Earth, work a Hollow in the Stones.
1795   Observant Pedestrian I. 37   The weight of eleven half-pence..working a hole perhaps in the pocket of my kerseymere waistcoat.
1836   C. Wordsworth Athens & Attica xxvi. 203   The wheels have worked deep grooves in the rock.
1856   W. G. Simms Eutaw xliv. 545   The cypress-log has..worked a little hollow into the body of the log [upon which it rests].
1901   E. A. Sandeman Notes Manuf. Earthenware ii. 22   Care should be taken that the runners in the mill do not always run in the same circle, or they will work grooves in the lower stones.
2011   J. Winspear Lesson in Secrets 163   A wedding ring that seemed to have worked a groove into her finger.

1585—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. To erode (something) by friction; = wear v.1 9a. rare.

1853   E. K. Kane U.S. Grinnell Exped. xlix. 465   The berg ahead..is an amorphous mass, so worn that it must have been sorely wrought before its release from the glacier.
1993   R. Fortey Hidden Landscape viii. 109   The onslaught of the sea is without remission, and joint planes have been worked and eroded until sea stacks have eventually become isolated from the main outcrop.

1853—1993(Hide quotations)

 V. To bestow labour on, do work on; to shape, craft, manipulate.
 30. transitive.

 a. To farm, cultivate, till (land, soil, etc.); = labour v. 1b. Also: to cultivate (a plant or crop). to work the land : (originally) to till the land; (now also more generally) to engage in agriculture.

OE   Ælfric Old Eng. Hexateuch: Gen. (Claud.) iii. 23   Adræfde hine ða of neorxnawange, ðæt he ða eorðan worhte & him ðæron tilode [L. ut operaretur terram].
OE   Ælfric Old Eng. Hexateuch: Gen. (Claud.) ix. 20   Noe..began to wyrcenne ðæt land.
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) (1959) Gen. ii. 5   The lord god..had not rayned [altered from yrayned] vpon þe erþe, & was no man þat miȝte wirch þe erþ.
▸ ?1440   tr. Palladius De re Rustica (Duke Humfrey) (1896) iii. l. 589   Faat lond, ydonged, moyst, & well ywroght O[y]nons desire.
a1530   W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfeccyon (1531) ii. f. xlixv   God dyd..set hym in paradyse..for that entent that he sholde worke and kepe it.
1573   T. Tusser Fiue Hundreth Points Good Husbandry (new ed.) f. 51v   Chuse soile for the hop, of the rottenest mould, well donged & wrought.
1622   in 10th Rep. Royal Comm. Hist. MSS (1885) App. i. 107   The earth is soft and sandy, esy to bee wrought.
1681   T. Delaune & B. Keach Τροπολογία ii. 14 (margin)    A husbandman is..one that works the earth.
1744   in 6th Rep. Deputy Keeper Public Rec. App. ii. 121 in Parl. Papers (1845) XLVIII. 351   For the..raising, planting, and working a vegetable (called Sesamo) extraordinary productive of oyl.
1771   Encycl. Brit. II. 603/1   Never work the land when wet.
1799   J. Robertson Gen. View Agric. Perth 263   The common of Rattry..is indeed very barren; but if it were wrought, it would produce turnips and then grass.
1821   Sat. Mag. 15 Sept. 254   The soil shall be wrought without raising into ridge drills in the usual way.
1898   A. Brown First Republic in Amer. 288   Virginia tobacco would pay enormous profits if suitable labor for working the crop in the sickly summer season could be procured.
1921   D. H. Lawrence Sea & Sardinia v. 204   They will do the artificial Government navvy-work at a miserable five francs a day..—anything, anything rather than work the land.
1959   Farmer & Stockbreeder 22 Dec. (Suppl.) 7/2   The art of good farming will remain—the art of knowing when and how to work the soil.
1989   T. Parker Place called Bird xxiv. 295   I've four of my children living here in Demus working the land.
2002   Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 20 Jan. 57/5   We were working the ground, I was going east on my tractor and a worker who was with me was going west.

OE—2002(Hide quotations)


 b. To obtain or extract (ore, coal, stone, etc.) by mining or quarrying. Also: to extract materials from (a mine, quarry, etc.). Cf. working n. 15.

OE   Ælfric Homily (Vitell. C.v) in J. C. Pope Homilies of Ælfric (1967) I. 207   [Oft m]an wyrcð nu isen of eorðan gold & seol[for ac hi ne mi]hte nan mann macian to wecgum gyf God ne geworhte þa oran to þam.
c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 3069 (MED)   Me wolde wene þat in þis lond no ston to worke nere.
1538   T. Elyot Dict. at Metallici   They which do dygge and warke mettall out of the mynes.
1555   R. Eden in tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde f. 178   There is an other maner of woorkyng the mynes in riuers or brookes of runnynge waters.
1604   E. Grimeston tr. J. de Acosta Nat. & Morall Hist. Indies iv. vii. 226   The silver that hath beene wrought in the country.
a1618   W. Raleigh Apol. Voy. Guiana 54 in Judicious & Sel. Ess. (1650)    It had been no lesse a breach of Peace to have wrought any Myne of his,..then it is now cald'd..a breach of peace to take a towne of his.
1709   T. Robinson Ess. Nat. Hist. Westmorland & Cumberland x. 62   We found the Vein wrought three Yards wide, and twenty Fathom deep.
1778   W. Pryce Mineralogia Cornubiensis 21   Several parts of the Lode..have been indiscreetly hulked and worked.
1791   J. Smeaton Narr. Edystone Lighthouse §99   I..went to view the quarries where the flat paving and steps were wrought.
1839   H. T. De la Beche Rep. Geol. Cornwall iv. 124   Roofing~slates and flagstones have been worked in some places.
1844   J. Dunn Hist. Oregon Terr. 241   The natives were anxious that we should employ them to work the coal.
1879   Cassell's Techn. Educator (new ed.) IV. 212/1   Several mines were worked for this metal.
1900   Engin. Mag. 19 717   In days gone by thin seams were worked by special thin coal miners.
1967   Gloss. Mining Terms (B.S.I.) viii. 8   Buttock,..a short step in the line of face,..from which coal can be more conveniently worked.
2005   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 13 Mar. viii. 6/5   Thirty-eight men in eastern Kentucky, working a wretched little nonunion mine (derisively called a dog hole), were blown up.

OE—2005(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. To shape or manipulate (a soft or malleable substance); esp. to knead, press, or stir (into another substance); to mix or incorporate together or with another substance; to spread on or on to a surface.Also with into or to, expressing the form or object resulting from this process (cf. sense 33); in Old English also with adjectival complement (cf. quot. OE1).

eOE   Bald's Leechbk. (Royal) (1865) i. xlviii. 122   Mintan wel getrifulade meng wiþ hunig, wyrc to lytlum cliwene.
OE   tr. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium (Vitell.) (1984) i. 32   Genim þonne swa mycel swa [þ]u mæge mid twam fingrum genima[n], wyrc hit sinewealt & do on þa næsþyrlu.
OE   tr. Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarium (Vitell.) (1984) iii. 44   Mencg eall tosomne, wyrc to clyðan [c1150 Harl. 6258B wyrc to cliðam] & lege ðonne on þa wunde.
1417   in M. Sellers York Memorandum Bk. (1912) I. 183 (MED)   That he wyrk na lede amanges any other metall..bot if it be in souldur.
a1425  (▸1379)    H. Daniel Liber Uricrisiarum (Wellcome 225) 447   Þe sperm is traveld & swynkyn as buttur in þe kyrne, & swongyn & wroght & knodyn in þe ballok stanys of þam bath as past or dawgh in a vessell.
a1538   T. Starkey Dial. Pole & Lupset (1989) 115   Our marchantys cary them [sc. lead and tin] out..& then bryng the same in workyd agayn and made vessel therof.
1566   T. Blundeville Order curing Horses Dis. f. 34v, in Fower Offices Horsemanshippe   Mingle them togyther, and sturre them continually in a pot.., vntill the Quicksyluer be so wrought with the rest, as you shall perceyue no Quicksyluer therin.
1575   G. Gascoigne Glasse of Gouernem. ii. iii. sig. E   You shall see..how I will worke this geare lyke wax.
1653   I. Walton Compl. Angler viii. 172   Mix with it [sc. paste] Virgins-wax and clarified honey, and work them together with your hands before the fire.  
1678   J. Moxon Mech. Exercises I. i. 9   When you joyn several Bars of Iron together..and work them into one Bar.
1717   M. Prior Alma iii. 461   I..melted down my Plate, On Modern Models to be wrought.
1756   Mrs. Calderwood's Journey in Coltness Coll. (1842) ii. 147   This salt they work into the butter.
1767   H. Glasse Art of Cookery (new ed.) App. 362   When they are wrought to paste, roll them with the ends of your fingers.
1852   Jrnl. Royal Agric. Soc. 13 i. 41   After the butter is taken from the churn it must first be well squeezed or ‘worked’ by the hand.
1853   A. Soyer Pantropheon 285   Some cooks..worked sesame flour..with honey and oil.
1885   C. Wallis Dict. Water-colour Technique 14   The first tone should be decidedly grey..; and on this may be worked Raw Sienna and Brown Madder.
1913   National Baker Jan. 66/2   A prettier, though more troublesome, method is to work the paste into rolls and cut off two-inch lengths.
1914   E. Oberg Machinery's Handbk. 1189   Put down the concrete in layers..and work it onto the form with a shovel.
1932   T. E. Lawrence tr. Homer Odyssey xii   You must work bees-wax till it is plastic.
1985   N.Y. Times 27 June c4/1   It requires lots of scrubbing and forceful back-and-forth stroking to work the paint into all the crevices.
2004   W. Szykitka Big Bk. Self-reliant Living v. 359/3   Work the butter with a paddle until the salt is evenly distributed.

eOE—2004(Hide quotations)


 b. transitive. To shape (stone, metal, wood, or some other hard substance) by cutting, filing, etc. Also: to shape or beat out (metal) by hammering (cf. wrought adj. 10). Also figurative.

a1325  (?c1300)    Northern Passion (Cambr. Gg.1.1) l. 1261   Þei wrothin hit [sc. a tree] wit maistrie.
a1398   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add. 27944) (1975) II. xvi. vii. 833   [Silver] may wel be wrouȝt by hamour but nought so wel as gold.
1444   in C. Welch Hist. Pewterers of London (1902) I. 14 (MED)   Grete damages..daily growen and encrecen..to alle the Kinges lieges bying, myltyng, and wirkyng the same tynne.
1556   M. Huggarde Displaying of Protestantes (new ed.) f. 82   They folowed the ensample of a Mason when he worketh stones to build a house. For firste he doeth rough hewe them.
1679   J. Moxon Mech. Exercises I. ix. 157   A greater number of Boards to work to a Level.
1697   W. Dampier New Voy. around World vii. 127   The Goldsmiths are commonly strangers, yet some of the Achinese themselves know how to work Metals.
1703   Moxon's Mech. Exercises (new ed.) ix. 37   Till you have wrought [1677 filed] the Spindle from end to end.
1717   G. Berkeley Jrnls. Trav. Italy 27 May in Wks. (1955) VII. 283   Stone easily wrought.
1781   W. Cowper Flatting Mill 2   When a bar of pure silver or ingot of gold Is sent to be flatted or wrought into length.
1844   E. B. Browning Lady Geraldine's Courtship li   Little thinking if we work our souls as nobly as our iron.
1855   ‘S. A. Bard’ Waikna ix. 185   The trunk of the ceiba..is invaluable to the natives. The wood is easily worked.
1885   Athenæum 21 Mar. 382/1   The facility of working it [sc. limestone] would lead one to expect that an arcuated architecture would have sprung up in Assyria.
1911   Encycl. Brit. XXVII. 39/2   Power presses for working sheet-metal articles.
2007   Young Archaeologist Summer 6/1   I could be..working in the banker workshop (actually working the stone with chisels and a mallet).

a1325—2007(Hide quotations)


 c. intransitive. With adverb as complement: (of a substance) to behave in the specified way while being shaped, manipulated, etc.; to admit well, easily, etc., of shaping or manipulation. See also to work up 1b at Phrasal verbs 1.

1490   Caxton tr. Foure Sonnes of Aymon (1885) vi. 136   Whan the yron is well hoote, hit werketh the better.
1662   B. Gerbier Brief Disc. Princ. Building 24   Portland Stone works well.
1676   J. Smith Art of Painting in Oyl ii. 16   Vermillion... If it be ground fine..no Colour works better.
1706   Phillips's New World of Words (new ed.) at Cottum   In making Hats, To Cotton well, is when the Wooll and other Materials work well and imbody together.
1764   Museum Rusticum (1765) 3 xlviii. 205   Whilst in the quarry, it works better than after it has been exposed to the sun.
1815   J. Smith Panorama Sci. & Art II. 732   Yellow ochre..is..much used [sc. in painting], as it works very freely.
1877   C. H. Savory Paper Hanger 68   Distemper mixed with jellied size will lay on better..than when the size is used hot. Colour mixed on the former plan works cool and floats nicely, while the latter works dry, and drags and gathers.
1932   R. P. A. Johnson & M. I. Bradner Properties of Western Larch (U.S. Dept. Agric. Techn. Bull. No. 285) 33   The moisture content has a pronounced influence on the ease with which a wood works.
2011   A. J. Hamler Box Builder's Handbk. xvii. 126   Cedar works easily with both hand and power tools.

1490—2011(Hide quotations)


 32. transitive. In passive (chiefly in form wrought). To be ornamented or inlaid with (also †mid) a colour, material, design, etc. Cf. inwrought adj. 1.

eOE   King Ælfred tr. Boethius De Consol. Philos. (Otho) (2009) I. iv. 391   Ne me no ne lyst mid glase geworhtra waga.
1438–42   in J. Stratford Bedford Inventories (1993) 168   A spiceplate gild, wrought with the armes of Alençon.
1527   in J. S. Brewer Lett. & Papers Reign Henry VIII (1872) IV. ii. 1667   Antique works..wrought with byste and gold.
1634   T. Herbert Relation Some Yeares Trauaile 61   Two Pillars..couered and wrought with blue and Gold.
1663   B. Gerbier Counsel to Builders 83   Glasse wrought with good lead,..Glass wrought with an Arch well leaded.
1704   J. Harris Lexicon Technicum I   Piedouche, in Architecture, is a little Square Base smoothed, and wrought with Mouldings, which serves to support a Bust.
1763   Beauties Nature & Art Displayed VII. iv. 16   The doors of the church, which are said to be of Corinthian brass, are curiously wrought with bass-reliefs.
1814   R. Southey Roderick xviii. 222   The crosier richly wrought With silver foliature.
1880   L. Wallace Ben-Hur iv. xii. 246   A cornice wrought with arabesques exceedingly intricate in form.
1914   H. C. Gordon Woman in Sahara 271   The little Turkish cap..was richly wrought with gold and gems.
2004   Indianapolis Monthly June 127/1   Bracelets worked with delicate filigree.

eOE—2004(Hide quotations)

 33. transitive.

 a. To transform, convert, or turn (something) into or (now less usually) to something else.Cf. sense 23, from which this sense differs in that the object undergoes an actual change of form or nature (in later use esp. through the application of work or effort) rather than remaining essentially the same thing in a changed state or condition.

OE   Paris Psalter (1932) cxxxiv. 7   He fram þysse eorðan ende lædeð wolcen wræclicu, wind and liget, and þa to regne recene wyrceð.
c1175  (▸OE)    Homily (Bodl. 343) in S. Irvine Old Eng. Homilies (1993) 100   Næs Criste nan earfoðnesse þæt he þa stanes mid his worde to lafes wrohte.
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 2 Cor. vii. 10 (MED)   That sorwe that is aftir God worchith penaunce in to stedefast heelthe.
a1550  (▸1471)    G. Ripley Compend of Alchemy (Bodl. e Mus.) f. 56v (MED)   The substaunce of an egg by nature is wrought Into a chicke.
1576   T. Newton tr. L. Lemnie Touchstone of Complexions ii. iii. f. 108v   Naturall Phlegme..is through heate conuerted and wrought into Bloud and redde colour.
1664   Duchess of Newcastle Philos. Lett. ii. xxv. 207   If another soul should enter into the body, and work it to another figure.
1753   Gentleman's Mag. May 231/2   I regulated my story by the rules of the drama, and with great application and labour wrought it into a tragedy.
1820   Q. Musical Mag. 2 17   The subject of the Fugata..is a very good one. It were to be wished that it had been worked into a regular Fugue.
1842   Tennyson Miller's Daughter (rev. ed.) in Poems (new ed.) I. 114   God..who wrought Two spirits to one equal mind.
1904   Speaker 15 Oct. 51/2   He [sc. Keats] was not content with a vague image, but worked it into something more definite.
1998   S. Priest Merleau-Ponty xiii. 211   A painting is a manipulation of matter and changing of the spatio-temporal location of innumerable physical items. Matter is wrought into a new form.

OE—1998(Hide quotations)


 b. reflexive. With adjectival complement: to go through some process so as to reach the state or condition expressed by the complement.

a1628   J. Preston Law out Lawed (1631) sig. Bv   The Godly mans heart..is like a troubled fountaine, which though it be muddy, yet because their is a spring of grace in his heart, it worketh it selfe pure againe.
1657   T. Manton Pract. Comm. Jude 146   The fountain never ceaseth till it work it self clean again.
1713   J. Addison Cato i. 16   So the pure limpid Stream, when foul with Stains..Work's it self clear, and as it runs, refines.
1753   S. Richardson Hist. Sir Charles Grandison II. xv. 160   His estate would..work itself clear.
1880   Preachers' Analyst May 40/1   You may work yourself clean with holy water.
1884   Manch. Examiner 20 Feb. 4/6   It would take some time for the trade to work itself right.
1907   J. A. B. Cook Sunny Singapore xvi. 101   The present misunderstanding will work itself right, but it may take some time to do so.
2009   N.Y. Rev. Bks. 8 Oct. 39/1   Philosophy thought it could work itself pure through ‘anti-psychologism’.

a1628—2009(Hide quotations)


 34. transitive. gen. To perform an action or process of a particular type on (a material, commodity, etc.), esp. in order to prepare it for sale or some specific subsequent use.Used chiefly as a general term covering a range of processes which might be individually expressed by more specific verbs.

1440   in W. H. Black Hist. & Antiq. Worshipful Company of Leathersellers (1871) 24 (MED)   Also that no Whitetawier tawe, wirke, nor array..ony maner Shepeslether..or any other weyke, untrewe, or unsuffisant lethir.
1466   in J. T. Gilbert Cal. Anc. Rec. Dublin (1889) I. 326   That no tanner, ne glover..wyrche harr leddyr at the ryver.
1602   E. Hayes in J. Brereton Briefe Relation Discouerie Virginia 19   England shall affoord vs people..which may very happily be spared from hence to work those commodities [i.e. Fish, Whale and Seale oils, Soape ashes and Soape] there.
1669   S. Sturmy Mariners Mag. v. xii. 65   Gun-powder of a..Russet colour..may be judged to have all its Receipts well wrought.
1700   T. Tryon Lett. 208   Muscovado Sugar..has the first place; the next is that which tends towards an Ash Colour.., and is a good Sugar for Refiners.., and therefore Refiners generally work the second.
1770   P. Luckombe Conc. Hist. Printing 360   When he worked White Paper, he caught the sheet by the upper further corner.
1839   C. M. Kirkland New Home x. 60   The road had been but little ‘worked’..and in some parts was almost in a state of nature.
1883   Chambers's Jrnl. 15 Dec. 791   Produce of value, such as tea, coffee, indigo, drugs, etc., have to be ‘worked’ for sale purposes; and this term embraces the opening of the package, examination for sea-damage, sorting into qualities, and a host of other operations.
1903   H. R. Procter Princ. Leather Manuf. 180   After bating, the hides are usually ‘worked’ (‘scudded’, ‘fine-haired’) on the beam, to remove dirt and grease.
1908   Japan Chron. 1 July 4/6   It [sc. a kind of paper] is said to be capable of being worked into all sorts of patterns, to be insect-proof and damp-proof.
2005   Preferential Trading Arrangem. in Agric. & Food Markets (OECD) i. 38   The more a product has been ‘worked’, the more restrictive the rules of origin are likely to be.

1440—2005(Hide quotations)

 35. transitive.

 a. To insert or incorporate (something material or immaterial) into something else, esp. in the process of construction or composition. Also with between, through, etc. Cf. to work in 1 at Phrasal verbs 1. In later use sometimes with implications of resistance, and coloured by sense 45a. For use in embroidery see sense 25c.

c1475  (c1445)    R. Pecock Donet (1921) 32   Sum excellence or worþines or goodnes of god..wrouȝt bi him into hise seintis or into enye of hise creaturis.
1582   A. Munday Eng. Romayne Lyfe 54   One of them [sc. the three nails] he caused to be fastened in the bridle of his Horse..: an other he made to be wrought into his Helmet.
1649   W. Blith Eng. Improver 49   A paire of Iron joynts curiously wrought into the very middest of my Barrell, on the neather side of it.
1707   tr. P. Le Lorrain de Vallemont Curiosities in Husbandry & Gardening 262   We..work into the Aperture, the Colours we would give the Flower.
1710   R. Steele Tatler No. 226. ⁋1   Those occasional Dissertations, which he has wrought into the Body of his History.
1711   W. Sutherland Ship-builders Assistant 48   To..work 3 whole Plank between 2 Buts.
1715   D. Defoe Family Instructor I. i. i. 31   Getting the Word of Life wrought in your Heart.
1753   S. Richardson Hist. Sir Charles Grandison II. vii. 42   The love of pleasure..was wrought into his habit. He was a slave to it.
1869   Ann. Rep. Commissioner Agric. 1868 254 in U.S. Congress. Serial Set (40th Congr., 3rd Sess.: House of Representatives Executive Doc.) XV   Such a hedge may be repaired by thrusting..brush..into the holes..and..working saplings through it obliquely.
1888   Iron 25 May 465   Heavy coils of iron..have been wrought round the..fore part of each gun.
1965   Analog Sci. Fiction/Sci. Fact Apr. 22/2   If it hadn't been for the countergravity materials worked into its structure, the Cloudsplitter would have plunged to the ground like a rock.
1997   J. Hatfield & G. Burt Unauthorized X-Cycl. 260   If you have a good enough story to tell, Chris will try to figure out a way to work it into the mythology.

c1475—1997(Hide quotations)


 b. Horticulture. To graft on or upon a stock. Formerly also with †into. In early use chiefly in figurative contexts.

1606   T. Dekker Double PP sig. E   Hee's a rich stone stuck in the Diadem: A graft so wrought into the Royall Stem.
1658   Sir T. Browne Garden of Cyrus ii, in Hydriotaphia: Urne-buriall 26   The Romanes early wrought so much civility upon the Brittish stock.
1779   J. Abercrombie Brit. Fruit-gardener 282   The approved varieties are with certainty continued by this method; worked either upon their own seedling stocks,..or upon Pear stocks.
1837   T. Rivers Rose Amateur's Guide 72   A collection of Chinese Roses worked on short stems.
1859   R. Thompson Gardener's Assistant 387   The..portion cut off, is termed the scion, or graft, and the rooted plant, on which it is placed or worked, is called the stock.
1929   U.S. Dept. Agric. Farmers' Bull. No. 1567. 26   A stock..should be at least as hardy and vigorous as the variety worked on it.
2005   P. M. Browse Heligan iv. 66   The [apricot] varieties cited have been worked on St. Julien A rootstocks in order to constrain vigour.

1606—2005(Hide quotations)


36. transitive. slang. To obtain or dispose of (something) illegally or fraudulently (cf. sense 18). Also: to sell or hawk (goods). Obsolete.

1826   Examiner 26 Mar. 205/2   The smugglers..succeeded in working the goods, excepting two tubs and their eleven-oared galley, which were seized.
1839   H. Brandon Dict. Flash or Cant Lang. in W. A. Miles Poverty, Mendicity & Crime 166/1   Work the Bulls, get rid of bad 5s. pieces.
1851   H. Mayhew London Labour I. 84/2   They made more money ‘working’ these [sc. pine-apples] than any other article.
1890   ‘R. Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer I. x. 151   Somebody might claim the colt without this [receipt]—say you'd worked him on the cross.

1826—1890(Hide quotations)


 37. transitive. To investigate or study systematically; to do research on. Cf. to work out 9 at Phrasal verbs 1, to work up 4d at Phrasal verbs 1. rare.

1840   W. Atkinson Princ. Polit. Econ. Pref. p. ix   I felt desirous of working the subject in conjunction with other persons, so that I might..derive assistance and advantage from any comments.
1900   J. Shephard & W. Strickland in Handbk. Austral. Assoc., Melbourne 74   The aquatic worms are an untouched group. There are very many forms and when worked they will doubtless yield interesting results.

1840—1900(Hide quotations)

 VI. To influence or affect a person, the body, mind, etc.
 38. intransitive. Chiefly with on, upon (formerly also †in, †into, †of, †to, †with).

 a. To influence or have an effect on a person mentally, morally, or emotionally; to prevail on, persuade; (now often) to strive or seek to influence in this way. In quot. c1400: to exert an astrological influence; cf. reign v. 5b.In quot. 1658: to make an entreaty to; = labour v. 5b.

OE   tr. Defensor Liber Scintillarum (1969) lvii. 340   Doce filium tuum et operare in illo ne in turpitudine illius confundaris : lær sunu þinne & wyrc on him þæt þu na on fylþe his þu beo gescynd.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Margaret (Royal) (1934) 43 (MED)   Ne mahtu, ne þin unwiht, nawiht wurchen on me, meiden an as ich am.
a1393   Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) v. l. 463   That ilke unsely maladie..Jelousie..worcheth on a man.
c1400   Treat. Astron. (Bodl. Add. B. 17) f. 3   Ther be also .vij. planetis that meuyn and werkyn in the .vij. heuenes.
1616   W. Browne Britannia's Pastorals II. ii. 48   Which wrought so on the Swains, they could not smother Their sighes.
1632   W. Lithgow Totall Disc. Trav. iv. 140   Sir Thomas..seriously wrought with the Grand Signior and his Counsell, to haue had him restored againe to his Lands.
1647   in F. P. Verney & M. M. Verney Mem. Verney Family 17th Cent. (1907) I. 435   Shee cries and tackes on..but all we can doo will not worke of her.
1658   G. Atwell Faithfull Surveyour i. 4   He works to the Lady [owner] to send another to measure it [sc. the farm]... He prevails with her, she sends another.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost viii. 507   Nature her self..Wrought in her so, that seeing me, she turn'd.  
1669   S. Pepys Diary 10 May (1976) IX. 551   The King may yet be wrought upon..to bring changes in our office.
1671   Milton Samson Agonistes 850   It was not gold..That wrought with me.  
a1715   Bp. G. Burnet Hist. Own Time (1724) I. 196   But he would not be wrought on.
1799   G. Washington Let. in Writings (1893) XIV. 184   He was not to be worked upon by Intriguers.
1823   Scott Quentin Durward III. v. 129   Sweetest Lady, work with thy child, that he will pardon all past sins.
1849   Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. vi. 72   She..worked on his feelings by pretending to be ill.
1869   E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest III. xiii. 266   He had many minds to work upon and to win over to his cause.
1953   S. J. Perelman Let. 23 June in Don't tread on Me (1987) 138   His muzzler has been working on me to play the perspiration circuit.
1976   W. Katiyo Son of Soil iii. 130   Take him downstairs and work on him until he is ready to write and sign a statement!
1989   V. Singh In Search of River Goddess 20   The prospect of off-season employment started to work on the porter and he became thoughtful.
2010   M. Cunningham By Nightfall 60   ‘I'm just saying. She won't do it.’ ‘Let me work on her.’

OE—2010(Hide quotations)


 b. To have a physical (esp. physiological) effect or influence on a person or thing.

1487  (a1380)    J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) iv. 700   Of the hevyn..How that the disposicioune Suld apon thingis virk heir doune.
1542   N. Udall tr. Erasmus Apophthegmes f. 219   He toke poison..but..it would not worke vpon hym.
1568   A. Scott Poems (1896) 18   As for a weddow, wirk weill on hir wame, I knaw no craft sall cause hir lufe ȝow bettir.
1585   T. Washington tr. N. de Nicolay Nauigations Turkie iii. xi. 91 b   Opium..doth so worke with them.., that they loose both their wits and vnderstanding.
1587   Sir P. Sidney & A. Golding tr. P. de Mornay Trewnesse Christian Relig. xvii. 314   This fault cannot bee..imputed to any infection receiued first from the body; for the Soule could not be wrought into by the body.
a1616   Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) ii. iii. 167   I know my Physicke will worke with him.  
1630   G. Hakewill Apologie (ed. 2) iv. xiv. 514   The same [sun-] beams exhale both stinking vapours out of the dunghills & sweete savours out of flowres, the beame is every way the same which workes vpon them, only the difference of the subjects..is it that..diversifies the effects.
1730   W. Burdon Gentleman's Pocket-farrier 75   When a Purge works..too strong upon him..give him an Ounce of Venice Treacle.
1847   Tennyson Princess iv. 72   Then, Did Cyril with whom the bell-mouth'd glass had wrought,..begin To troll a..tavern-catch.
1856   H. P. Leland Grey-bay Mare 49   In five minutes I could see the whiskey beginning to work on him.
1958   Generation 10 28/1   The wine was working on him, and after a while he became relaxed on the couch.
1996   A. Ghosh Calcutta Chromosome (1997) xxxvii. 247   Malaria works on the brain too, in different ways.
2012   L. Hechtman Clin. Naturopathic Med. (rev. ed.) vi. 143/2   Analgesics generally work on either the peripheral or central nervous systems.

1487—2012(Hide quotations)

 39. transitive.

 a. To act on the mind or will of; to influence, prevail on, induce, persuade; (also) to strive or seek to influence in this way; to urge. Chiefly with to, into.In early use frequently with connotations of cunning or deceit.

1532   T. More Confut. Tyndales Answere Pref. sig. Bivv   He shall by laysore worke her and wynne her to his owne heresye.
1595   S. Daniel First Fowre Bks. Ciuile Warres v. lxxvii. sig. Dd2   For frends, opinion, & succeeding chaunce, Which wrought the weak to yeld, the strong to loue.
1605   Bacon Of Aduancem. Learning ii. sig. Rr2   In Negotiation with others; men are wrought by cunning, by Importunitie, and by vehemencie.  
1610   P. Holland tr. W. Camden Brit. i. 532   Yet could hee not bee wrought..to disclose his complices.
1642   D. Rogers Naaman 45   What doth the Lord? workes Peters heart from that objection, and so from unwillingnesse.
1701   T. Morer Κυριακη Ὴμερα 573   To work him to a persuasion, that whatever is done, is for the best.
1713   J. Addison Cato ii. i   Are your Hearts subdu'd..and wrought By Time and ill Success to a Submission?
1819   Scott Ivanhoe III. vi. 151   I have been working him even now to abandon her.
1857   T. Hughes Tom Brown's School Days i. iii. 74   He was constantly working the Squire to send him..to a public school.
1880   R. D. Blackmore Mary Anerley III. xviii. 263   Sooner, or later, he must come round; and the only way to do it, is to work him slowly.
1922   J. Joyce Ulysses ii. v. [Lotus Eaters] 77   Sorry I didn't work him about getting Molly into the choir.
2006   K. James Can u get Away? 73   When he tracked her down.., she worked him into letting her stay.

1532—2006(Hide quotations)


 b. To act on the feelings of; to agitate, excite; to move, rouse into or to a specified emotional state, esp. excitement. Also reflexive and (occasionally) intransitive with reflexive meaning.Now more usually expressed by to work up 5b at Phrasal verbs 1.

a1616   Shakespeare Macbeth (1623) i. iii. 148   My dull Braine was wrought with things forgotten.  
a1616   Shakespeare Tempest (1623) iv. i. 144   Your fathers in some passion That workes him strongly.  
1697   Dryden tr. Virgil Æneis x, in tr. Virgil Wks. 535   Love, Anguish, Wrath, and Grief, to Madness wrought,..his lab'ring Soul oppress'd.
1732   G. Berkeley Alciphron I. i. iv. 15   Sometimes they work themselves into high passions.
1810   W. Combe Schoolmaster's Tour in Poet. Mag. Nov. 39   The well-dress'd man now stopp'd, to know What work'd the angry Doctor so.
1838   Dickens Oliver Twist I. iv. 57   Grasping his cane tightly, as was his wont when working into a passion.
1839   Dickens Nicholas Nickleby xxxiv. 327   ‘Who has?’ demanded Ralph, wrought by the intelligence.., and his clerk's provoking coolness, to an intense pitch of irritation.
1855   H. H. Milman Hist. Lat. Christianity IV. ix. ii. 36   Philip..wrought by indignation from his constitutional mildness.
1920   Boys' Life June 10/3   By the time half an hour had passed he had worked himself into a state of nerves as unpleasant as it was unusual.
1987   R. Shilts And Band Played On vi. xxvii. 265   By the time Koch arrived, Larry was worked into a lather and shouted at the mayor.
2002   Imperial Oil Rev. Winter 28/2   The game works C.J. into a frenzy of excitement.

a1616—2002(Hide quotations)


 c. U.S. colloquial. To hoax, cheat, con.Quots. 1884, 1892 may instead be examples of sense 19b.

1884   ‘M. Twain’ Adventures Huckleberry Finn xix. 162   Preachin's my line, too; and workin' camp-meetin's.
1892   Boston (Mass.) Jrnl. 21 Sept. 6/1 (heading)    Waltham officers looking for a horse dealer who has been working that town.
1894   W. D. Howells Traveller from Altruria 122   I couldn't believe there was any such place as Altruria, and if it were not for Mr. Twelvemough here..I might really suspect him and Mr. Homos of—well, working us, as my husband calls it.
1970   J. D. Douglas Youth in Turmoil 210   The interviewer..knows a great deal about the subculture,..enough, certainly, to know when he is being ‘managed’ (or ‘worked’ or ‘conned’).
2011   J. Munton & J. McLeod Con ii. 23   Casual questions about my retirement, my mortgage, the money my mother had left me... In hindsight, I think he was working me all the time.

1884—2011(Hide quotations)


 d. colloquial (orig. and chiefly U.S.). Of a performer, politician, etc.: to attempt to engage the interest, attention, or support of (a person or group of people), esp. by using persuasion, charm, or charisma; to manipulate, captivate, or enthral.

1969   Life Feb. 61/2   Our encounters soon assumed the form of spontaneous staging sessions with Roth out in the spotlight working the room like a stand-up comic.
1976   N.Y. Times 15 May 14/3   The lead singer..prancing from one end of the stage to the other and tirelessly working the audience.
1987   Times 2 June 11/3   Mrs Mary Baker points out the headlines to her husband as he works the crowd from his ‘battlewagon’.
1990   Independent (Nexis) 2 Oct. 16   He works his queue of admirers.., here a nudged ‘Ah reet lass,’ there a clipped ‘You're looking good for yer age’.
2009   J. Ballentine Murder for Hire 31   Tommy continued working the room all night, and every chance he had, he would bend the ear of one or more people standing around him.

1969—2009(Hide quotations)


40. transitive. Of a purgative: to stimulate the bowels of (a person). Obsolete. rare.

1713   Swift Jrnl. to Stella 25 Mar. (1948) II. 645   I..went to Court, and did some little Business there; but was forced to go home; for..I take a little Physick over night, wch works me next day... Tis Hiera picra 2 spoonfull, devilish Stuff.
1771   T. Smollett Humphry Clinker I. 84   Mistress said, if I didn't go, I should take a dose of bum-taffy; and so remembering how it worked Mrs. Gwyllim a pennorth, I chose rather to go again with her into the Bath.

1713—1771(Hide quotations)

 VII. Senses influenced by wark v.

 a. transitive. Originally: to cause pain to (a person). Later chiefly: to trouble, harass, annoy; (also) to tease. Now rare (Scottish and English regional in later use).

a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 230   Ut of his side he toc a rib, And made a wimman him ful sib, And heled him ðat side wel, Ðat it ne wrocte him neuere a del.
1768   A. Ross Fortunate Shepherdess i. 29   A fever..Which wrought him sae, that..He was full ready for his hindmost dress.
1879   G. F. Jackson Shropshire Word-bk. 488   ‘This 'ere tuth worches me above a bit.’..‘'Er worched the poor chap despertly.’
1887   J. Service Life Dr. Duguid 218   Onybody she took an ill will at,—dod! she wrocht them dreedfully.
a1895   T. Holderness MS Note in F. Ross et al. Gloss. Words Holderness (Eng. Dial. Dict copy, 1877) in Eng. Dial. Dict. (1905) VI. 542/2   Ah'll work Jack aboot his sweetheart.
1921   V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 30   The Elder's twisted mou' That wrocht him a' the journey through [i.e. in trying to conceal his mirth].

a1325—1921(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. To ache, hurt; = wark v.   Now rare (English regional in later use).

a1425  (?a1400)    Chaucer Romaunt Rose (Hunterian) (1891) l. 1814   I lefte [perh. read felte] sich woo my wounde ay wrought.
a1470   Malory Morte Darthur (Winch. Coll. 13) (1990) III. 1238   I may nat stonde, my hede worchys so.
1662   I. T. Haughton's Grim the Collier v. 66 in Gratiæ Theatrales   Hark, my Braynes beat, my head works, and my mind giveth me.
1673   J. Ray N. Countrey Words in Coll. Eng. Words 51   Warch, or Wark, to ake, to work.
a1825   R. Forby Vocab. E. Anglia (1830) (at cited word)   In violent head-ache, the head ‘works like a clock’.
1886   R. E. G. Cole Gloss. Words S.-W. Lincs. 168   Oh, how my head works.

a1425—1886(Hide quotations)

 VIII. To move, direct.

 a. intransitive. With adverb or prepositional phrase as complement: to move slowly or with effort through something; to dig or burrow down, or in or under something; to penetrate. Cf. to work out 5 at Phrasal verbs 1.

?a1425   Mandeville's Trav. (Egerton) (1889) 132 (MED)   So lang sall þis fox wirk in þe erthe þat at þe last he schall comme oute amang þis folk.
c1540  (?a1400)    Gest Historiale Destr. Troy (2002) f. 181   All the cite..þai set vppon fyre..Wroght vnder wallez walt hom to ground.
1596   J. Dalrymple tr. J. Leslie Hist. Scotl. (1888) I. 47   Sum says it is a mater that wirkes out of the stanes.
1691   in Archaeologia 12 189   Sometimes the coneys work under the wall into the garden.
1708   J. Kersey Dict. Anglo-Britannicum   Coe, (among Miners) the little Lodgment they make for themselves, under Ground, as they work lower and lower.
1766   Compl. Farmer at Walk   The bottom of the walks should be laid with rubbish, coarse gravel, &c.,..and beaten down close, to prevent the worms from working through it.
1883   G. C. Davies Norfolk Broads xxxi. 238   They [sc. eels] work down into the soft mud, far beyond the reach of eel-picks and darts.
1950   Pop. Mech. Jan. 221/1   A bar is placed along the bottom of each rubber loop to keep the heads of the fasteners from working through the foam rubber.
2003   Guardian 2 Oct. (Life section) 9/5   Dig a deep hole there and you should first have to work through a layer of soft snow.

?a1425—2003(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. To go or move in a specified direction or course; to make one's way, go along; (now chiefly) to make one's way slowly, laboriously, or in an indirect course. Chiefly with adverb or prepositional phrase as complement (see also to work in 2 at Phrasal verbs 1, to work out 5 at Phrasal verbs 1).

1474   Caxton tr. Game & Playe of Chesse (1883) iii. ii. 87   Fortune hath of no thinge so grete playsir, as for to torne & werke all way [no exact equivalent in Fr. original].
1697   Dryden tr. Virgil Æneis v, in tr. Virgil Wks. 354   The raging Fires..lurking in the Seams,..Work on their way, amid the smouldring Tow.
1759   T. Wallis Farrier's & Horseman's Compl. Dict. at In   As he [sc. the horse] works along by a wall, hedge, or some such thing.
1802   G. Colman Broad Grins 116   Being Bacchi plenus,—full of wine,—..He work'd, with sinuosities, along.
1848   Dickens Dombey & Son l. 500   [The dog] worked round and round him, as if..undecided at what particular point to go in for the assault.
1898   G. A. B. Dewar In Pursuit of Trout 26   The trout was working up stream, always keeping under the bank.
1912   Times 19 Oct. 7/3   The Russians..worked round to the rear of the Turkish army.
1993   A. McNab Bravo Two Zero (1994) vii. 173   We could hear the follow-ups from the opposite bank, working towards us with torches and shouting to one another.

1474—1993(Hide quotations)


 c. intransitive. With adverb or prepositional phrase as complement: to proceed in a specified direction in some operation or activity.

1566   T. Blundeville Arte of Rydynge (rev. ed.) iii. f. 77v, in Fower Offices Horsemanshippe   Holding the stones in your handes in such maner, worke downe the gut into the body of the horse.
1655   Natura Exenterata 417   In the top it [sc. a Hose] must be six score and twelve stitches wide, so work downward.
1730   J. P. Let. 24 July in Pract. Husbandman & Planter (1733) I. 119   Take the Bud in your Left Hand, and the Dibber in your Right, make the Depth of the Hole the full Length of your Dibber... And so working towards the Left Hand, it will go on apace.
1777   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 67 325   In the beginning of the polish,..I worked round and round.
1825   J. C. Loudon Encycl. Agric. v. i. 459   The mower now advances to the front,..always working towards the standing corn and not from it.
1877   C. H. Savory Paper Hanger 26   The paper hanger generally works from left to right.
1910   in Folk-lore (1912) 23 39   He is given several sharp blows on the ribs, beginning under the armpit and working downwards.
1955   Househ. Guide & Almanac (News of World) 198/1   The golden rule to remember regarding the cutlery is that you start on the outside and work inwards.
1996   D. W. Brown Teach yourself Aromatherapy viii. 118   To complete your colon massage work down the descending colon to the left-hand side of the abdomen.
2008   DogSport Mar. 32/1   If we were doing a free search..of a building, we would start to the left of the door we went in and work from left to right.

1566—2008(Hide quotations)


 d. intransitive. figurative and in extended use. With adverb or prepositional phrase as complement: to proceed, make progress; (now) esp. to advance towards (or toward) a particular end, aim, or conclusion. Also: to seek to make progress in this way. Cf. to work up 4a at Phrasal verbs 1. Sometimes, when with connotations of active striving, coloured by sense 11a.In quot. 1864   in to work round : to recover from an illness.

1566   J. Rastell Third Bk. beware of M. Iewel f. 162v   No surely, the Effect can not worke vpward towardes the cause, or worke so excellently douneward, as the cause.
1725   T. Sherlock Use & Intent Prophecy v. 123   A Method of Providence working towards the great End always in view.
1753   H. Jones Mem. Earl of Essex ii. 17   I see she muses deep; her Mind works upwards, And paints it's struggling Efforts in her Face.
1848   E. Bulwer-Lytton Harold II. ix. iii. 314   A silent war between the two for mastery was working on.
1857   E. C. Gaskell Life C. Brontë I. ii. 27   Their religion did not work down into their lives.
1864   Dickens Our Mutual Friend (1865) I. ii. ix. 246   Hoping as Our Johnny would work round.
1887   Phrenol. Jrnl. Aug. 71/2   A standard of taste that is higher than our own..serves as something to work towards, a goal in the distance.
1895   P. Hemingway Out of Egypt ii. 158   A new conversation starts up every hour, and..there is never time to work to a conclusion.
1927   Jrnl. Royal Statist. Soc. 90 146   This paper represents an attempt at placing the laws of political economy on a numerical basis and at working towards ‘econometry’—a synthesis of mathematics, economics and statistics.
1961   J. A. C. Brown Freud & Post-Freudians ii. 27   The Death instinct is a force which is constantly working towards death.
2011   M. Kranacher et al. Forensic Accounting & Fraud Exam. i. 28   Gradually, as the process is repeated and the hypotheses continue to be revised, you work toward what is the most likely and supportable conclusion.

1566—2011(Hide quotations)


 e. intransitive. Nautical. Of a sailing vessel: to sail in a particular course or direction, to make sail; esp. to sail against the wind, to tack. Also of a person: to sail a vessel in this way. Now esp. in to work to windward . Cf. to work up 4a at Phrasal verbs 1.

1621   F. Cartwright Life, Confession & Heartie Repentance sig. C2   The Sea was exceeding high, nor could the ship worke, being euer foule of one Ship or another.
1633   T. Stafford Pacata Hibernia ii. xii. 204   The shipping..had direction to worke about to another Creake.
1704   London Gaz. No. 4054/1   Perceiving..that they wrought from us, we followed them..with all the Sail we could make.
1748   B. Robins & R. Walter Voy. round World by Anson ii. viii. 223   She had sprung her fore-top-mast, which had disabled her from working to windward.
1771   Philos. Trans. 1770 (Royal Soc.) 60 116   A little before noon we weighed, and worked up the river.
1790   W. Bligh Narr. Mutiny on Bounty 78   I endeavoured to work to windward, but we were obliged to take to our oars again.
1819   H. M. Brackenridge Voy. S. Amer. I. i. 113   A light breeze springing up from the land, we worked in towards the shore.
1823   W. Scoresby Jrnl. Voy. Northern Whale-fishery 2   We reached down the river, and, on the ebb, worked out of the Rock Channel.
1836   F. Marryat Pirate xvi, in Pirate & Three Cutters 184   The Comus..worked, in short tacks, outside the reef.
1853   E. K. Kane U.S. Grinnell Exped. (1856) xxiii. 184   We are working, i.e., beating our way in the narrow leads..between the main ice and the drift.
1914   Cent. Mag. June 178/2   The yacht worked northward.
1936   Times Lit. Suppl. 7 Nov. 899/3   He wanted a chance of seeing a palari working to windward in bad conditions.
1993   E. A. Proulx Shipping News xiii. 115   You got a shoal draft boat, my boy, she has to work to windward.

1621—1993(Hide quotations)


 f. transitive. To direct or manage the movement of; to guide or drive in a particular course; (Nautical) to direct or steer (a vessel). Also (of a railway engine): to pull (a train).

1667   Milton Paradise Lost ix. 513   A Ship by skilful Stearsman wrought Nigh Rivers mouth or Foreland.  
1719   D. Defoe Farther Adventures Robinson Crusoe 28   Having no Sails to work the Ship with.
1762   J. Mills New Syst. Pract. Husbandry I. 160   Make a dam..and a sluice, and work the water upon it through the winter.
1806   P. Gass Jrnl. 30 Mar. (1807) 193   Making the finest canoes,..and..expert in working them when made.
1857   T. Hughes Tom Brown's School Days i. v. 98   Getting on the box, and working the team down street.
1883   Forest & Stream 14 June 896/2   A jury was promptly got out, and with the skilful trimming of sails, she was worked home.
1912   Standard 20 Sept. 7/2   Special trains..will be worked over the systems of the Great Northern..railways.
1982   Railway Mag. Nov. 508/1   A replacement..powered the train as far as Carnforth where another ‘47’ was later provided to work it forward.
1996   G. Cook Bleak Seasons lxxxiii. 268   Blade's soldiers had transported it [sc. a boat] overland after having failed to work it along the canal.

1667—1996(Hide quotations)


 g. intransitive. Cricket. Of a ball: to move into or away from the batsman after pitching; esp. to break, to spin. Cf. work n. 2c. Now rare.

1838   Bell's Life 8 July   The dead state of the ground which prevented the balls from working.
1853   F. Gale Public School Matches 29   As he played really well to a ball which would have taken the off stump, it is quite a pity that the ball worked from the on to the leg stump.
1862   J. Pycroft Cricket Tutor 57   A ball working away only a little way to the leg.
1907   Irish Times 3 Sept. 7/4   On a wicket at Lord's considerably affected by rain, and one on which the bowlers were able to make the ball work a lot.
1931   Christian Sci. Monitor 9 July 10/6   The Oxford bowlers..found they could make the ball ‘work’ on a pitch that had been worn appreciably.
1939   Observer 26 Apr. 25/5   He makes the ball work in and away from the batsman.

1838—1939(Hide quotations)


 43. transitive (reflexive). With adverb or prepositional phrase as complement: to progress, advance, proceed, esp. gradually or with difficulty; to make one's way (literal and figurative). Also: to get or bring oneself into a particular position. Cf. to work one's way at Phrases 6a.

1528   Tyndale That Fayth Mother of All Good Workes f. viii   Faith wroteth [1547 worketh] her selfe in the hertes of the electe.
1575   G. Gascoigne Noble Arte Venerie lxxii. 196   [The vermin] will..worke themselues further in, so that your Terriers shall not be able to find them.
1639   S. Du Verger tr. J.-P. Camus Admirable Events 99   Octavian..wrought himselfe into her good will.
1663   Marquis of Worcester Cent. Names & Scantlings Inventions §15   How to make a Boat work it self against both Wind and Tide.
1711   J. Addison Spectator No. 121. ¶5   [The Mole] so swiftly working her self under Ground, and making her way so fast in the Earth.
1838   Dickens Oliver Twist III. xlviii. 245   The women worked themselves into the centre of the crowd.
1857   T. Hughes Tom Brown's School Days i. iv. 81   Tom..worked himself into his shoes and his great-coat.
1871   S. Smiles Character i. 21   The solitary thought of a great thinker will dwell in the minds of men for centuries, until at length it works itself into their daily life.
1952   J. Thompson Killer inside Me xvii. 111   He'd..edged into psychiatry. Out on the West Coast, he'd worked himself into some staff job with the police.
1998   N.Y. Times 18 Jan. ii. 26/2   Begun in 1981 as a video company called Vidmark, it has moved into the theatrical market and worked itself along, movie by movie.
2001   Chicago Tribune 7 Sept. i. 11/6   The administration has worked itself into a position of having to choose between just saying no..or having to accept the obviously unacceptable.

1528—2001(Hide quotations)

 44. intransitive.

 a. Of the sea: to be turbulent or stormy; to toss, seethe, rage. Also of any liquid: †to swirl, churn (obsolete). Now rare (chiefly literary in later use).

a1535   T. More Dialoge of Comfort (1553) iii. sig. N.iii   Before a greate storme the sea begynneth some tyme to worke and roare in it selfe ere euer the wynde waxe boysteous.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Jonah i. 13   The see wrought [Hebrew hōwlêḵ] so, & was so troublous agaynst them.
1609   Shakespeare Pericles xi. 48   The sea workes hie.  
1653   J. Taylor Short Relation Long Journey 11   The Well..doth continually work and bubble with extream violence.
a1718   T. Parnell Poems Several Occasions (1721) 49   There Parent Ocean work'd with heaving Throes.
1815   C. Hutton Philos. & Math. Dict. II. 427/1   It is commonly said, the water works and rises in a column, before the tube comes to touch it.
1900   W. Alexander Finding of Bk. 54   Sleep sweetly while the ocean works and stirs.
1982   A. Grossman Of Great House 7   Beautiful Poems—like webs, like seas working, like Wind webbing black water blown flat with gray.

a1535—1982(Hide quotations)


 b. Chiefly Nautical. Of a ship or its parts: to strain, pitch, or roll, esp. so that the fastenings become slack (cf. sense 45b). Also occasionally of other types of vehicle.

1689   H. Pitman Relation Great Sufferings 16   Our little Vessel..wrought so exceedingly, by reason of the great motion of the Sea, that we could not possibly make her tight.
1769   W. Falconer Universal Dict. Marine (at cited word)   A ship is..said to work, when she strains and labours heavily in a tempestuous sea, so as to loosen her joints or timbers.
1840   R. H. Dana Two Years before Mast xi. 85   Everything was working, and cracking, strained to the utmost.
1886   Amer. Railroad Jrnl. May 50/2   As soon as the frames began to ‘work’ or move, it was practically impossible to keep the roofs tight.
1949   L. C. Hunter Steamboats on Western Rivers v. 261   The engines and boilers..rested on a floating foundation that worked and strained under the buffeting it received.
2003   W. H. Flayhart Perils of Atlantic xii. 162   Quite a swell was moving against the Old Head of Kinsale, and the ship was working and grating against the rocks.

1689—2003(Hide quotations)


 c. Of a thought or feeling: to be or become active or intense. In early use frequently as a figurative use of sense 44a; later also as an extended use of sense 47. Sometimes also with allusion to sense 6a.

1814   Byron Corsair i. ix. 12   As if within that murkiness of mind Work'd feelings fearful, and yet undefined.
1849   Macaulay Hist. Eng. II. vii. 215   While thoughts like these were working in the minds of many Dissenters.
1859   Tennyson Elaine in Idylls of King 215   Sea was her wrath, yet working after storm.
1865   C. Stanford Symbols Christ vi. 167   Tempests of feeling often work beneath an unchanged face.
1920   C. M. Doughty Mansoul iv. 115   Dark fantasy, inflaming his presumptuous youth; And working ever since, in his recreant thought.
2004   M. Lydon Ray Charles iv. xv. 191   ‘Hell, now all these guys are gonna hear me play, I'm gonna blow.’ The other fellows could see the emotions working in his face.

1814—2004(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. To move (something) gradually, carefully, or laboriously into or out of some position or state, typically by exerting force against resistance or impediment; (also) to move (something) to and fro. Chiefly with adjective, adverb, or prepositional phrase as complement. Also figurative.In reflexive quots. with an inanimate subject, distinguished from sense 43   in lacking any implication of volitional movement.

1617   F. Moryson Itinerary i. 115   This little ditch is not alwaies in one place but in time workes it selfe from one place to another.
1691   T. Hale Acct. New Inventions 49   Her Rudder wrought it self out of the Irons, hanging only by the uppermost Pintell.
1720   D. Defoe Life Capt. Singleton 176   The Rage of the Floods..works down a great deal of Gold out of the Hills.
1831   Scott Castle Dangerous xiii, in Tales of my Landlord 4th Ser. IV. 326   That secret charm, which, once impressed upon the human heart, is rarely wrought out of the remembrance by a long train of subsequent events.
1842   J. C. Loudon Suburban Horticulturist 327   Water is poured into it, and soil stirred in till the pit is half full of mud... The roots of the tree are then inserted, and worked about.
1858   B. Taylor Northern Trav. xii. 127   In vain I shifted my aching legs and worked my benumbed hands.
1867   F. Francis Bk. Angling v. 135   Some people work their flies.
1889   Hardwicke's Sci.-gossip 25 62   The tube..can be ‘worked down’ through the hyaline cap.
1902   Brit. Med. Jrnl. 12 Apr. 878   Loose body felt at inner side of knee and by working the knee he can make it evident to the touch.
1918   Times Lit. Suppl. 11 July 325/4   A neighbouring battery of guns..were being worked into position with a heaving-song.
1921   Pop. Sci. Monthly Mar. 88/2   Even a tight nut if subject to vibration will work itself loose.
1953   J. L. B. Smith Sea Fishes S. Afr. (rev. ed.) 222   The Leervis always seizes a fish across the middle and then works it about in the jaws until head-on for easy swallowing.
2012   R. D. Taylor Mingming & Tonic of Wildness xviii. 89   The lifting of a well-loaded bucket above head height to work it through the narrow hatch.

1617—2012(Hide quotations)


 b. intransitive. With adjective or prepositional phrase as complement: to move gradually into a different position; esp. to move irregularly or unsteadily so as to become out of the correct or usual position. Frequently in to work loose (also free) .

1683   J. Moxon Mech. Exercises II. 273   He will..hinder the Press from working into a twisting position.
1734   Builder's Dict. II. at Nails   Scupper Nails, are much us'd in fastening Leather and Canvas to Wood, and therefore require a broad Head, that neither may work loose.
1840   R. H. Dana Two Years before Mast xxv. 276   The anchor on the lee bow had worked loose, and was thumping the side.
1860   T. W. Ashby & T. Yorke Patent 12 Mar. in Newton's London Jrnl. Arts & Sci. (1861) 13 11   To prevent the pinions from working out of gear, the tine barrels or cylinders are mounted on sliding tubes.
1874   J. D. Heath Compl. Croquet-player 26   If the handle [of the mallet] be properly wedged into the head, it ought never to work loose.
1908   Wide World Mag. July 315/1   Some rivets had worked free, allowing the stern-post to become loose.
1920   R. D. Paine Corsair in War Zone vii. 156   The safety pins had worked out of position during the buffeting of the heavy seas.
1994   M. Gee Crime Story (1996) ii. 34   Her pale hair..had worked free at the back.
1997   D. F. Wallace Supposedly Fun Thing I'll never do Again 98   The operator and colleague (whose jeans have worked down his hips to the point where the top of his butt-crack is clearly visible) watch studiously.
2010   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 22 Aug. (Sports section) 12/5   A wire worked loose and fried on hot metal.

1683—2010(Hide quotations)


 c. transitive. Sport. To move, steer, or pass (a ball or puck) in a given direction; (also occasionally) to have or retain control or possession of (a ball, etc.). Frequently with adverb or prepositional phrase as complement.

1868   Football Ann. 1   ‘Dribbling’, as the science of working the ball along the ground by means of the feet is technically termed.
1897   Illustr. Amer. 6 Feb. 215/2   The clever way in which they worked the puck down the field.
1929   Boys' Life 52/3   It is very discouraging to the opponents to work the ball down the field and when they lose possession to see it go sailing through the air to the point where they started.
1977   N.Y. Times 24 Jan. 32/6   ‘We really worked the ball well today,’ the Jazz coach..said. The Jazz shot 51 percent from the floor.
1987   Golf Monthly July 31/2   The purists will probably..[argue] that a player's ability to ‘work’ the ball is nothing less than a basic practical demonstration of a proper development of skills.
1991   Chicago Tribune 7 Apr. 1   We haven't responded to their pressure defense by being patient and working the ball.
2013   Fraser Coast (Queensland) Chron. (Nexis) 10 Apr. 36   The Capras worked it downfield then across the backline and scored in the corner to take a 4-0 lead.

1868—2013(Hide quotations)


 46. intransitive. With preposition. Of a part of a mechanism: to make regular motions in relation to another part with which it is in contact or close proximity.

1701   Moxon's Mech. Exercises (ed. 3) 180   Some Turners that Turn altogether Small Work, have the Fore-end of the Treddle placed just under their work; so that their String works between the Cheeks of the Lathe.
1766   T. H. Croker et al. Compl. Dict. Arts & Sci. III. at Water   At the end of which [sc. levers] are jointed four rods with their forcing plugs working into four cast iron cylinders.
1770   P. Luckombe Conc. Hist. Printing 324   [He] besmears..so much of the Cheeks as the ends of the Head works against.
1825   ‘J. Nicholson’ Operative Mechanic 130   The four bevelled nuts work into the bevelled wheels..and so turn them.
1892   Photogr. Ann. II. 172   An index working over a scale.
1946   J. H. Du Bois & W. I. Pribble Plastics Mold Engin. ix. 371   The knockout pins may be made as sleeve knockouts working over a core pin.
1994   Progressive Dies (Soc. of Manufacturing Engineers) (ed. 2) 318   The use of die sets with ball sleeves working between pins and bushings.

1701—1994(Hide quotations)


 47. intransitive. Of the face, features, or a part of the body: to move energetically or convulsively, esp. with strong emotion; (of a person) to move a part of the body in this way. Also: †to struggle, twitch (obsolete).

1753   S. Richardson Hist. Sir Charles Grandison IV. xxvii. 197   Soon after, in whipt my indiscreet Lord, his colour heightened, his features working.
1770   J. Wesley Jrnl. 4 July (1870) III. 383   She..wrought (like one strangled) in her breast and throat.
1816   J. Austen Emma I. xiii. 235   With men he can be..unaffected, but when he has ladies to please every feature works .  
1841   Dickens Old Curiosity Shop ii. lviii. 127   Shaking his head, and working with both his hands as if he were clearing away ten thousand cobwebs.
1886   R. L. Stevenson Kidnapped i. 5   With his face all working with sorrow.
1914   S. Taber Jewel of their Souls xxvi. 280   He began to pace the floor again, his hands twisted nervously together behind his back and his features working convulsively.
1983   E. Welty Coll. Stories (new ed.) 29   Her face worked and broke into strained, hardening lines, as if there had been a death.
1991   S. Cisneros Woman Hollering Creek 156   The dog was eating something, jaws working in spasmodic gulps.
2000   N.Y. Times 5 May e5/1   His manner [is] overcaffeinated, his large hands working in front of him imploringly.

1753—2000(Hide quotations)

 48. transitive.

 a. Angling. To make (a fish) exhaust itself by pulling against a line; = play v. 4b.

1825   J. Wilson Noctes Ambrosianae xxiii, in Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. Dec. 758   He worked a salmon to a miracle.
1892   Amer. Angler Nov. 37/2   Many fishermen think it is their inexperience in properly working the fish; but that is not so.
1985   M. R. Sakamoto Pacific Shore Fishing 49   A lot of the rods are too soft to really work a fish in a long battle.
2006   H. Raines One that got Away 214   I fetched my rod from the boat and walked downstream to work the fish.

1825—2006(Hide quotations)


 b. orig. and chiefly Australian and New Zealand. Esp. of a dog: to herd (sheep, cattle, etc.). Also occasionally intransitive: (of sheep, cattle, etc.) to be herded. Cf. sense 14c.

1879   Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania) 17 Jan. 3/3   One of these dogs was..quite blind, and could not work sheep.
1891   G. Chamier Philosopher Dick II. 335   What do you want a dog for? You need not be driving the sheep about... Work them in circles, my man.
1930   L. G. D. Acland Early Canterbury Runs 1st Ser. i. 5   The practice was for a shepherd to go round the boundary once or twice a day, and at night work the sheep below one of the river terraces to camp.
1950   N.Z. Jrnl. Agric. July 5/2   Sheep work and draft best on a slight up-grade.
1976   Evening Post (Bristol) 23 Apr. 24/9 (advt.)    Border collie bitch starting to work cattle.
2007   T. Williams Working Sheep Dogs xxxi. 224   A dog's weakness becomes more obvious when working cattle than when working sheep.

1879—2007(Hide quotations)




 a. to work a wonder : to perform a miracle. In later use chiefly (usually in form to work wonders ): to do or achieve something remarkable or outstanding; esp. to have a very beneficial effect (on a person or thing).

OE   Beowulf (2008) 930   A mæg God wyrcan wunder æfter wundre.
?c1200   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 9499   Crist..wrohhte wunndre miccle ma Þann icc ȝuw maȝȝ nu tellenn.
c1225  (?c1200)    St. Katherine (Royal) (1981) 487   He..þurh wicchecreftes wurchið summe wundres.
a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1871) III. 125   By wycchecraft he schal wirche wondres.
a1525  (c1448)    R. Holland Bk. Howlat l. 785 in W. A. Craigie Asloan MS (1925) II. 119   He couth wirk wounderis quhat way yat he wald.
1588   C. Lucar tr. N. Tartaglia 3 Bks. Shooting i. i. 5   If you can make me to see this which I do not beleeue, you shal work a wonder.
1656   T. Blount Glossographia   Theomagical, pertaining to the wisdome of God, or that works wonders by his help.
1681   Heraclitus Ridens 22 Nov. 2/1   Such kind of Pamphlets work Wonders with the credulous multitude.
1704   T. Gale Serm. Holy-days 51   Others of them think they can work Wonders in Chronology.
1781   tr. Comtesse de Genlis Theatre of Educ. I. 36   The short conversation you have just had with Sabina, has worked wonders.
1844   Foreign Missionary Chron. Aug. 239/1   Love can work wonders.
1867   A. P. Smith Hist. 76th Regiment N.Y. State Volunteers xii. 145   He who can jump astride a hobby, and deem himself able to work a wonder in a day, will..find himself wonderfully mistaken.
1903   Pall Mall Mag. Aug. 516/2   He worked wonders at Ferney. The place bloomed.
1912   Ann. Amer. Acad. Polit. & Soc. Sci. 40 180   The open fireplace can work social wonders if people will only give it a chance.
1980   Jrnl. Biblical Lit. 99 56   Yhwh's working a wonder..is, in fact, the revelation of the messenger's divine status.
2011   Guardian 28 May (Weekend section) 63/1   Smooth a dollop of illuminator underneath your foundation... Works wonders on grey, hungover complexions.

OE—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. to work a miracle : to perform a miracle. In later use also (usually in form to work miracles ): to do or achieve something remarkable, outstanding, or seemingly impossible.

c1325  (c1300)    Chron. Robert of Gloucester (Calig.) 2569   Seint germayn..prechede as ned was, & vair miracle wroȝte.
a1450   St. Edith (Faust.) (1883) l. 2726 (MED)   God..Gret myracules for hurre he wrouȝte.
a1586   Sir P. Sidney Arcadia (1590) i. xiii. sig. I5   Or that she, (goddesse like) would work this miracle in her selfe.
1593   B. Barnes Parthenophil & Parthenophe iii. 119   I might work miracles to change again The hard to soft!
1639   T. Fuller Hist. Holy Warre v. x. 247   I know it will non-plus his power to work a true miracle.
1651   J. F. tr. H. C. Agrippa Three Bks. Occult Philos. 563   There be a certain art to foretell, and work miracles.
1705   W. Nicolson London Diaries 19 Nov. (1985) 305   He took notice of Her Majesty's working Miracles by Her Speech, in bringing all men to be zealous for the Hannover-Succession.
1759   Mod. Part Universal Hist. XIII. 308   A band of enthusiastick shepherds, who pretended to work miracles.
1872   W. H. Dixon W. Penn (rev. ed.) ii. 12   The miracles wrought by Spanish saints.
1892   Harper's Mag. Feb. 455/2   In parts in which he can call in the aid of make-up, he works miracles of metamorphosis.
1929   Travel Jan. 21/1   Magnesia drinking water..works miracles for dyspeptics.
1994   S. Sonnett Restraint ii. 20   I get paid to do my best, not to work miracles.
2005   D. Cruickshank Around World in 80 Treasures 117   Siva is reputed to have worked a number of miracles in and around the site of modern Madurai.

c1325—2005(Hide quotations)


 c. to work magic : to practise magic; to perform a magical procedure, rite, or trick. In later use also (also in form to work one's magic ): to do or achieve something remarkable or outstanding.

1829   J. Sheppard Divine Origin Christianity II. xii. 249   Jannes and Jambres, Egyptians, sacred scribes, were men who had been judged inferior to none in working magic.
1879   S. Baring-Gould Germany I. 392   A prestidigitator can work magic with his nimble fingers.
1904   E. A. T. W. Budge Guide 3rd & 4th Egypt. Rooms Brit. Museum 181   Stone object, with twenty facets,..probably used in working magic.
1998   National Trust Mag. Autumn 37/1   Interior designers, fabric merchants, furnishers, flower arrangers and so on, are invited in to work their magic.
2003   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 6 Nov. d14 (advt.)    Alouette Light Louvers work magic with light—softening it, filtering it, controlling it to transform the look of a room.

1829—2003(Hide quotations)

 P2. to work one's will .

 a. To freely exercise one's will; to have one's own way; to do what one wishes; (later chiefly) to achieve one's purpose. Also in extended use of an abstract quality, power, etc.

OE   Rule St. Benet (Corpus Cambr.) vii. 26   Ne com ic toþy, þæt ic minne willan worhte, ac þæs þe me hider asænde.
a1375   William of Palerne (1867) l. 307   He..graunted him..Forto worchen his wille as lord wiþ his owne.
a1425  (?c1300)    Northern Passion (Cambr. Gg.5.31) l. 18   Þai gedird þaime to gedir full styll Of ihesu forto wyrke þare wyll.
1566   W. Painter Palace of Pleasure I. xlv. f. 245v   Let fortune worke her will.
a1633   A. Munday John a Kent f. 2v   Leaue the God of heauen to woorke his will.
1684   T. Guidott Gideon's Fleece 30   Let Patience, or Impatience work its will.
1700   Dryden Chaucer's Cock & Fox in Fables 245   The false Loon, who cou'd not work his Will By open Force, employ'd his flatt'ring Skill.
1782   Gentleman's Mag. Mar. 134/1   Let them jeer, let libellers work their will.
1838   F. Trollope Romance of Vienna xi. 210   Imla knew Count Alderberg better than his mother did, and worked his will upon him in a different way.
1870   E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest (ed. 2) I. v. 368   The enemy wrought his will..without let or hindrance.
1921   W. J. Locke Mountebank xi. 142   She..set a coiffeur to work his will on her hair.
1992   W. Greider Who will tell People i. iv. 108   The steady diffusion of authority has simply multiplied the opportunities for power to work its will.
2001   N.Y. Times 21 Jan. iv. 1/4   [He] campaigned..as Mr. Congeniality, able to..work his will through pure charm.

OE—2001(Hide quotations)


b. To achieve one's sexual desires; to have sexual relations (with a person). Also to work (a person) with one's will : to have sexual relations with (a person). Cf. to have one's way with at way n.1 and int.1 Phrases 1b(h). Obsolete.In quot. OE   as part of a riddle in which an activity (apparently churning butter) is described using overtly sexual imagery.

OE   Riddle 54 6   Hyse..hof his agen hrægl hondum up, [h]rand under gyrdels hyre stondendre stiþes nathwæt, worhte his willan; wagedan buta.
a1375   William of Palerne (1867) l. 667 (MED)   Wirche wiþ me þi wille, or witterli in hast Mi liif lelly is lorn.
a1500  (c1400)    Emaré (1908) l. 227 (MED)   Wyth her he þowȝth to worche hys wylle, And wedde her to hys wyfe.
c1540  (?a1400)    Gest Historiale Destr. Troy (2002) f. 31v   All the souerains..assignet me hir ffor to wirke with my wille & weld as my nowne.
1610   Merrie Iest Ieamie of Woodicock Hill (single sheet)    An other did worke his will, and tickled his wiues hei nonnie nonnie.

OE—1610(Hide quotations)


 P3. Proverb. those that will not work shall not eat and variants (now often if you don't work, you don't eat).  [Originally in biblical references and allusions, after post-classical Latin si quis non vult operari, nec manducet, lit. ‘if someone does not want to work, he will not eat’ (Vulgate: 2 Thessalonians 3:10) and its model Hellenistic Greek εἴ τις οὐ θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι, μηδὲ ἐσθιέτω (New Testament); compare quots. c1384   and 1535, respectively. Compare Middle French qui ne laeure point ne mengue point (1376).]

[OE   Wulfstan tr. Amalarius De Regula Canonicorum (1957) 193   Se apostol..cwæð: Qui non uult operari nec manducet. Þæt is, se ðe nyt beon nelle, he æniges godes ne abite.]
c1384   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Douce 369(2)) (1850) 2 Thess. iii. 10   This thing we denounsiden, or warneden, to ȝou, for if ony man wole not worche, nether ete he.
c1450  (?c1425)    St. Mary of Oignies i. xii. in Anglia (1885) 8 148   Ententynge þat þe apostel seiþ, ‘whoo so wirkith not, ete he not’.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) 2 Thess. iii. B   Yf there were eny which wolde not worke, ye same shulde not eate.
1595   W. Burton Rowsing of Sluggard i. 5   The Apostle warneth the Thessalonians, that if any amongst them were able to worke and would not worke, they should not eate; to shew that idle persons are not worthie to liue.
1624   J. Smith Gen. Hist. Virginia iii. x. 83   You must obey this now for Law, that he that will not worke shall not eate (except by sicknesse he be disabled).
1684   R. Steele Trades-man's Calling i. 8   The old Canon, 2 Thess. 3. 10. That if any (let them be who, or what they will) will not work, (being capable of it) they should not eat.
1726   W. Mason Duty maintaining Publick Work-Houses 12   It is plain the Managers had Authority, and to such the Apostles had commanded not to permit any, who wou'd not work, to eat.
1798   Weekly Mag. 17 Mar. 197/2   He that will not work should not eat; or, in other words, he that gives nothing for what he receives, is an unprofitable being.
1826   tr. J. B. Massillon Select. from Wks. 171   I ought not to eat, because I do not work, but are you excused from this law?
1881   F. L. Shaw Hector 104   Those who do not work should not eat. Do you suppose that a good dinner would be put upon this table..if others had not worked?
1908   Union Seminary Mag. Feb. 197   Amongst the animals beneath man it seems to be true..that he that will not work shall not eat.
1919   I. Zangwill in Soviet Russia 20 Sept. 16/1   Bolshevism is not the scourge it first seemed... Who can object to a Constitution, one of whose first articles declares that ‘He who will not work shall not eat’?
1993   R. B. Edgerton Cloak of Competence (rev. ed.) iii. 94   We used to bitch about the food in that hospital, but out here, if you don't work you don't eat nothing at all.
2008   P. McGraw Real Life vi. 142   I grew up poor... So I learned real fast that if you don't work, you don't eat.

c1384—2008(Hide quotations)


 P4. to work like a —— : to work extremely hard, in a manner likened to a person or animal known for undertaking heavy, arduous, or intense labour.Sometimes with the implication that the work undertaken is degrading or dehumanizing.See also to work like a beaver at beaver n.1 1d, to work like a dog at dog n.1 Phrases 16, to work like a horse at horse n. 25a, to work like a nigger at nigger n. and adj. Phrases 1.

1538   D. Lindsay Complaynte & Test. Popiniay sig. Eiiv   But nyght and day, they warke lyke besy bees.
1674–9   Strange Encounter Two Lovers (single sheet) (verso)   I was carry'd away for a slave. Then for to work like a beast I was forced.
1738   E. Dower Salopian Esquire 9   I work like a Slave Morning, Noon and Night.
1793   Assoc. Papers (Assoc. for Preserving Liberty & Property) ii. ix. 4   I don't see why we are to work like slaves, while others roll about in their coaches.
1864   D. R. Goodwin Southern Slavery iv. 115   Any person might take this poor man, drive him to the field to work like an ox without wages, [etc.].
1931   M. Moore Let. 24 June in Sel. Lett. (1997) 257   I take my jeroba up there and am working like a demon to complete it.
a1939   C. Porter Compl. Lyrics (1983) 196   Too many men in the U.S.A. work like maniacs, trying to keep their wives and pay for their Cadillacs.
1991   Herald (Folkestone) 27 Dec. 21/3   The whole of the teaching staff..worked like trojans backstage.
2005   B. Keating & S. Keating Blood Sisters (2006) xv. 296   Piet was working like a madman, and they really meant to open the lodge early in the new year.

1538—2005(Hide quotations)


 a. to work one's brains (also eyes, soul, etc.) out : to work extremely hard.Recorded earliest in to work one's heart out at heart n., int., and adv. Phrases 6c(a). See also to work one's guts out at gut n. 1b.

1578   T. Lupton All for Money sig. B.iv   He is not worthie to liue I make god a vowe, That will not worke his hearte out for both you.
1609   W. Symonds Virginia: Serm. 21   .The poore mettall man worketh his bones out,..yet for all his labour,..hee can hardly keepe himselfe from the almes box.
1830   W. Howitt in Fraser's Mag. Sept. 216/1   This comes of living like a curmudgeon in a great house by yourself, working your eyes out to hoard up money.
1849   W. Valentine Budget of Wit & Humour 49   I've been working my daylights out all summer.
1920   Negro World 13 Mar. in R. A. Hill Marcus Garvey & Universal Negro Improvem. Assoc. Papers (1983) II. 257   The boy..works his soul out from morning to morn-out.
2007   Blade (Toledo, Ohio) (Nexis) 6 Feb.   There's nothing I can do about it except work my brains out and coach like hell.

1578—2007(Hide quotations)


 b. colloquial. to work one's butt (also socks, fingers, balls, etc.) off : to work extremely hard.See also to work one's ass off at ass n.2 Phrases 7, to work one's arse off at arse n. and int. Phrases 5a, to work one's tail off at tail n.1 5a.

1828   Ladies' Mag. June 246   She would have worked her hands off before she would have parted with the dear little creature.
1890   C. C. Harrison Anglomaniacs ii. 79   What man wants to work his head off to lay up money, and then see a fool and profligate walk away with it?
1926   People's Home Jrnl. Feb. 49/2   I'll work—I'll work my fingers off.
1974   J. Wainwright Evidence I shall Give xxi. 102   He was working his nuts off.
1982   P. Redmond Brookside (Mersey TV shooting script) (O.E.D. Archive) Episode 4. 53   The poor sods working their knackers off at the machines.
1983   W. Goldman Adventures in Screen Trade 47   He obviously worked his buns off learning to be a hoofer.
1989   Independent 15 Mar. 21/4   I don't mind working my bollocks off.
1992   Pract. Householder Nov. 5/1   Another time you'll work your socks off and the results are terribly disappointing.
1998   Boxing Monthly June 37/2   Despite working my balls off, I wasn't getting any money.
2010   Guardian (Nexis) 9 June 29   My friends..have worked their butts off to help increase the number of African Caribbean and Asian members of parliament.

1828—2010(Hide quotations)


 a. to work one's (also its) way : to advance; to move or make progress to or towards something or someone, esp. gradually or with difficulty; to penetrate through something, etc. Cf. to make one's way at way n.1 and int.1 Phrases 1h.

1609   T. Heywood Troia Britanica xiv. xcv. 379   O're his dead Coarse the warlike Greeke doth stride, and workes his way through harnesse richly ingrau'd.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost ix. 512   As one who sought access, but feard To interrupt, side-long he works his way .  
1713   J. Addison Cato i. iii   Through Winds, and Waves, and Storms, he works his way.
1725   D. Defoe New Voy. round World ii. 151   They worked their Way down these Streams.
1824   R. Stevenson Roads & Highways 8   The bottom or hand-laid stones are said to work their way from the bottom to the surface.
1857   Knickerbocker Jan. 86   The..phrase..is working its way into common parlance.
1889   R. Brydall Art in Scotl. vi. 106   He gradually wrought his way against the usual obstacles which a poor artist must always encounter.
1908   E. Fowler Between Trent & Ancholme 23   The fluffy golden kerria..having worked its way through the thick wall.
1992   D. Madden Remembering Light & Stone xi. 105   I carefully worked my way around to what I had wanted to talk about.
2008   J. Quinn Goodnight Ballivor xxi. 108   They would start at the far end and work their way towards the headland.

1609—2008(Hide quotations)


 b. to work one's way up : to progress towards something better or superior by labour or effort (esp. as opposed to privilege, favouritism, etc.); to gradually ascend a hierarchy, series of ranks, etc., esp. by working hard. Cf. to work up 4a at Phrasal verbs 1.

1734   Fidler's Fling at Roguery ii. 84   The Man to make his best Effort, To work his way up to the Skies, By being bravely Good and Wise.
1774   T. Walker Vindic. Discipline Church of Scotl. i. iii. 32   They were obliged to work their way up to the ministry by their own industry; some of them, perhaps, by teaching schools.
1858   Chambers's Jrnl. 9 160   [He] had worked his way up from a corporalship of marines.
1883   Harper's Mag. Oct. 726/2   The trainer..begins in the stables as a rubber at an early age, and works his way up.
1956   N. Algren Walk on Wild Side i. 111   Ambitious young men..willing to begin at the bottom and work their way up.
1991   C. Buckley Wet Work Prol. 7   He was an orphan. Worked his way up from zip.
2005   Professional Builder (Nexis) 1 Mar. 49   Gary began his building career with Marv Andersen Homes, working his way up from house-sweeper to framer to Director of Construction.

1734—2005(Hide quotations)


 c. Chiefly U.S. to work one's way through college (also university, school, etc.) : to pay for one's college or university education (and its associated living costs) by taking paid employment while studying.

1870   Zion's Herald 4 Aug. 372/1   The donor, Orange Judd, esq., graduated in 1847, working his way through college, self-made, like so many successful men.
1896   San Francisco Chron. 13 Aug. 14/1   Young Saul Epstein of San Francisco has entered the University this year and decided to work his way through college as a barber.
1939   Afro-American 4 Nov. 15/8   A 1939 graduate of Howard University, who worked his way through school as a porter.
1948   Sunday News of India 1 Feb. 10/4   One of nine children of Creole parents, she was borne in Minneapolis, and worked her way through University by acting as a model at art classes.
1978   Washington Post (Nexis) 18 May va24/2   They came to the door and said they were working their way through med school by painting house numbers on curbs.
2005   C. Northrup Mother-Daughter Wisdom (2006) xix. 582   Some girls work their way through college while others don't have to.

1870—2005(Hide quotations)


 P7. to work one's passage and variants: to pay for a journey by undertaking work; spec. to pay for one's passage on a ship by working during the voyage. Also figurative.Apparently arising from ellipsis of for in to work for one's passage; but cf. to work out 2 at Phrasal verbs 1.

1727   P. Longueville Hermit ii. 121   He sees..Hay-makers, going to work,..and resolves to make one of their Number, and work his passage up to London.
1803   D. Wordsworth Jrnl. 25 Aug. (1941) I. 257   He was just come from America... I do not think that he had brought much [money] back with him, for he had worked his passage over.
1836   C. P. Traill Backwoods of Canada 8   A pretty yellow-haired lad,..who works his passage out.
1849   Thackeray Pendennis (1850) I. xxv. 236   Some months afterwards Amory made his appearance at Calcutta, having worked his way out before the mast from the Cape.
1884   Cent. Mag. Jan. 365/1   An educated young Englishman..worked his passage as a coal-passer and ash-heaver.
1946   T. H. White Mistress Masham's Repose xix. 126   The first scheme was to work his passage to London as a bus conductor.
1958   Oxf. Mag. 15 May 448/2   Italy, liberated piecemeal and ‘working her passage’ to the improved status of the Hyde Park Declaration and the New Deal for Italy.
1973   Times 20 Mar. 13/2   One of the greatest bores in packing is choosing which shoes to take... They are heavy..and do not really work their passage.
2010   G. Ridley Discov. J. Baret ix. 233   Sober, professional soldiers who wanted to work their passage back to France.

1727—2010(Hide quotations)


 P8. to work havoc : to cause destruction, chaos, or disorder; to wreak havoc. Frequently with work in past tense or past participle form wrought, which is sometimes interpreted as the past tense or past participle of wreak; cf. wreak v. 8b.

a1774   A. Tucker Light of Nature Pursued (1777) III. iv. xxvi. 48   The mighty strength of a ruling passion..might work havoc and devastation.
1806   J. Barrow Acct. Trav. Interior S. Afr. 1797–98 (ed. 2) I. 218   They are subject also to a cutaneous disease that works great havoc among the bovine tribe.
1868   A. W. Kinglake Invasion of Crimea III. xvii. 369   A ricochet fire which..had been more or less working havoc in their ranks.
1913   St. Nicholas Nov. 37/2   Its men would pile up a writhing heap of arms and legs, beneath which would be the player who had wrought the havoc.
1931   Sun (Baltimore) 6 Sept. 7   Floods wreak havoc in French vineyards... Menacing floods..and downpours which wrought havoc in the wine-producing region.
1978   Washington Post 30 Nov. a14/2   Settlers who are prone to California dreaming,..and on whom..the anything-goes atmosphere and the wide-open spaces work havoc.
1984   Financial Times 4 June iii. p. vii   A decade of inflation had wrought havoc with its portfolio of fixed interest mortgages.
2004   Independent 18 Aug. (Review section) 11/1   I had..increasingly witnessed the havoc wrought by viruses.

a1774—2004(Hide quotations)


 P9. to work both ways : (of an action or process) to have a double or mixed (often positive and negative) effect; (of a point or statement) to serve both sides of an argument; cf. to cut both ways at cut v. 2b.

1783   E. Burke Speech on Mr. Fox's E. India Bill 1 Dec. (1784) 94   The influx of fortunes... works both ways; it influences the delinquent, and it may corrupt the minister.
1829   Niles' Reg. 9 May 170/1   No rule..can be laid down..unless it work both ways; one..reason assigned for..men's [higher] wages is ‘that they have families to support’. Has not a woman, a widow, a family to support?
1935   Proc. Acad. Polit. Sci. 16 255   The appeal to experience, it is true, is about the most effective that can be made to Americans. But it works both ways. The experience of the past can become the most stubborn obstacle in the way of progress.
1995   Guardian 18 Feb. 8/7   In discovering that the ‘feel-good factor’ works both ways, one of the researchers..has confirmed that happy physicians both view their patients more humanely—and are more likely to make correct diagnoses.
2006   People (Nexis) 3 Nov. 55   All that hard work can work both ways, though. It can fire you up or it can exhaust you so we will have to see how the players react.

1783—2006(Hide quotations)


P10. to work a progress : to make progress, advance. Obsolete. rare.

1831   Scott Castle Dangerous iii, in Tales of my Landlord 4th Ser. IV. 75   It [sc. a contagious disease] ravaged the English Borders, and made some incursions into Scotland, where it afterwards worked a fearful progress.

1831—1831(Hide quotations)


 P11. Mining. to work home : to work back towards the main shaft. Now rare.

1835   Rep. Select Comm. Accidents in Mines 343 in Parl. Papers (H.C. 603) V. 1   It is better to drive to the boundary, and work home.
1872   Saward's Coal Trade Circular (N. Y.) 22 May 1/1   Where there is a known danger from spontaneous combustion, it can be obviated by driving to the boundary and working home.
1908   Trans. Inst. Mining Engineers 1906–7 33 507   The system..of fore-winning the coal by means of driving out heads to the dip-boundary, or some convenient distance from the shaft, and working home.

1835—1908(Hide quotations)


 P12. to work for a living : to have to work to earn money, as opposed to being in a position of ease, privilege, etc.; (also) to earn money by doing something regarded as proper work, instead of something regarded as easy.

1880   Marion (Ohio) Daily Star 16 Aug. 2/3   Don't you think it's outrageous that a pretty-behaved girl like you should be working for a living when there's thousands of women no better than you be rolling in their carriages?
1938   F. D. Sharpe Sharpe of Flying Squad i. 13   The difference between the Underworld and the Overworld folk is that one lot works for a living; the other ‘acquires’ wealth and regards toil as sin.
1951   Lowell (Mass.) Sun 22 Oct. 1/3   Placing an additional tax on the people is not going to help the economical situation of those who have to work for a living.
1996   Billboard 13 July 105/1   If a rock star whines about how rough he's got it, he should try working for a living.
2013   Irish Independent (Nexis) 29 May 38   A well-paid club which facilitates a narrow group of well-connected people to pursue a cushy existence, while the rest of the world works for a living.

1880—2013(Hide quotations)

 P13. Printing.

  work and turn   n. a method of imposition in which a single plate or image carrier bears the material for both sides of a sheet, the sheet being turned and fed in a second time, keeping the same edge as the gripper edge, and then cut in half to produce two complete copies.

1888   C. T. Jacobi Printers' Vocab.   Sheet work, applied to works or jobs printed both sides—the reverse of half-sheet or ‘work and turn’.
1931   H. Jahn Hand Composition xvi. 263   The Dexter standard jobbing folder..makes thirteen different folds adapted to work-and-turn and sheetwise forms.
1967   V. Strauss Printing Industry x. 626/1   Work-and-turn impositions cut the number of sheets to be printed in half, but they require larger and more expensive presses.
2001   Working from Home Mar. 36/1   Documents with pages that need to be printed..upside down—the printing industry refers to this as work and turn.

1888—2001(Hide quotations)


  work and tumble   n. a method of imposition similar to work and turn but with the opposite edge of the sheet used as the gripper edge for the printing of the second side.

1903   Desk Bk. (Philippines Bureau of Printing) 43   The number of sheets to be printed,..instructions to ‘work and turn’ or ‘work and tumble’, and..the number of sheets to print one side only for binding, should be written on the O.K.'d revise.
1931   H. Jahn Hand Composition xvi. 254   In the work-and-tumble form the pages are so imposed that the sheet must be ‘tumbled’ or turned on the ‘long cross’.
2010   G. Ambrose & P. Harris Visual Dict. Pre-press & Production 286   Work-and-tumble sees the gripper edge change position from one side of the sheet to the other.

1903—2010(Hide quotations)


  work and back   n. a method of imposition where different image carriers are used for the two sides of a sheet; cf. sheet-wise adv., sheet-work n. at sheet n.1 Compounds 2.

1919   C. R. Spicher Pract. of Presswork 201   This is called a ‘sheetwise’ form, or work and back.
1967   E. Chambers Photolitho-offset ii. 18   Sheet work is the term used to indicate that two formes are used to print the sheet, sometimes called ‘work and back’.
2004   E. Kenly & M. Beach Getting it Printed (ed. 4) 199/1   Sheetwise, technique of printing one side of a sheet with one set of plates, then the other side of the sheet with a set of different plates. Also called work and back.

1919—2004(Hide quotations)


  work and twist   n. a method of imposition where a sheet is printed on one side, then turned, typically through 180 degrees, and printed again on the same side from a different part of the same image carrier.This procedure is sometimes used for printing tables, with the horizontal lines in one part of the image carrier and the vertical lines in another.

1922   Appl. Eng. for Printers of Lakeside Press 72   Work and twist forms are those that are given two impressions on each half sheet by twisting new edges to both the side and gripper (or lower) guides.
2008   G. Ambrose & P. Harris Production Man. v. 144/2   The rarely used work and twist sees two passes of the same design on the same side but with the stock rotated 180 degrees between each pass.

1922—2008(Hide quotations)


  work-to-rule   n. a form of industrial action in which employees undertake their contractual duties and no more, typically following rules (such as safety regulations) punctiliously in order to reduce efficiency and speed of work, and to demonstrate the level of flexibility and goodwill ordinarily offered by the workforce; an instance of this.

1920   Times 19 Apr. 14/2   In the event of the Executive Committee not complying with this request..they [sc. railwaymen] threatened to adopt a national ‘work to rule’ movement.
1920   Financial Times 4 June (headline)    ‘Work to rule’ dropped at Liverpool.
1950   Ann. Reg. 1949 40   The delegates replied by ordering a general work-to-rule 44-hour week..unless claims were settled.
1962   Spectator 26 Jan. 96   What about lesser sanctions—go-slows, work-to-rules and overtime bans?
1992   Forbes 7 Dec. 110/3   The centerpiece of the union's campaign is its work-to-rule strategy, designed to slow down production.
2001   Toronto Star 7 Apr. a4/1   It's his fifth year as a principal and he has had to deal with four strikes and work-to-rules.

1920—2001(Hide quotations)


 b. to work to rule : (of employees) to undertake contractual duties and no more, as a form of industrial action; to carry out a work-to-rule.Cf. quot. 1879 for to work to —— at Phrasal verbs 2   for use of the phrase outside the context of industrial action.

1920   Times 1 May 15/3   They propose to ‘work to rule’, a system of ca' canny..which consists in taking advantage of the technical instructions issued to railwaymen in order to do as little work as possible.
1958   Times 4 Aug. 6/4   Prison officers..were working to rule in protest against the report..that prisoners there had been assaulted.
1967   R. Whitehead in G. Wills & R. Yearsley Handbk. Managem. Technol. 69   The system would fail even more often if the staff stuck rigidly to the rules. We see the results when they ‘work to rule’, as it is.
2005   Providence (Rhode Island) Jrnl. (Nexis) 19 Aug. c1   Teachers worked to rule, complying with the contract's requirements but declining to volunteer for such things as chaperoning class trips or dances.

1920—2005(Hide quotations)


  work-to-contract   n. a form of industrial action in which employees undertake their contractual duties and no more; an instance of this; = work-to-rule n. at Phrases 14a.

1969   Financial Times 13 Feb. 32/2   More than 1,000 pilots..are to prepare plans for what they call a ‘work-to-contract’ if the corporations's pay proposals..do not advance negotiations for more money and better conditions of service.
1975   Times 13 Jan. 15/1   Instead of wholesale industrial action by most of the [medical] profession, we are left with the consultants and their ‘work-to-contract’.
1996   Jrnl. Gen. Educ. 45 71   He interprets unions as potentially democratizing forces that have often mistaken..an instrumental, work-to-contract strategy, for empowerment.
2013   Times Educ. Suppl. (Nexis) 1 Feb. 6   The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association suspended its work to contract last year.

1969—2013(Hide quotations)


 d. to work to contract : (of employees) to undertake contractual duties and no more, as a form of industrial action; to carry out a work-to-contract.

1969   Guardian 15 Mar. 6/1   It was also stated that teachers at Warrington would work ‘to contract’.
1994   Brit. Med. Jrnl. 17 Dec. 1601/1   The only thing that the government would understand would be consultants deciding to work to contract.
2010   Wisconsin State Jrnl. (Nexis) 18 Oct. a1   The Monona Grove Education Association has decided to ‘work to contract’.

1969—2010(Hide quotations)


 P15. to work out of a suitcase : to have no fixed place of work; to be an itinerant worker; (also) to have a job which requires frequent overnight travel. Cf. sense 13d, to live out of a suitcase at suitcase n. 2.

1947   San Antonio (Texas) Light 29 Dec. b1/5   Brown is disturbed over the number of itinerant tattoo artists who are plying their trade in San Antonio. He terms them ‘guys who work out of a suitcase’.
1976   New Society 12 Aug. 338/2   Sir Robert Mark's spring clean of London bookshops forced hard pornbrokers to work out of a suitcase.
1990   Independent (Nexis) 13 Mar. 31   You could work out of a suitcase. You don't need to be attached to an institution. It's rather like being a busker.
2004   Vancouver Province (Nexis) 27 June b14   Peter Greenberg has spent much of his adult life working out of a suitcase. ‘Hotels could be considered my second home,’ he says.

1947—2004(Hide quotations)


 P16. to work it : to engage in a performance, photo shoot, etc., with intensity or energy, or so as to increase its impact; esp. to move or pose in a sexually alluring way during such a performance. Chiefly in imperative.

1979   Associated Press Newswire (Nexis) 13 June   ‘Work it, girl, work it!’ cheers Dixie Lee Parker as her 20-year-old daughter bumps, grinds, writhes and wiggles out of a gold tinsel dress, black brassiere, panties and G-string.
1987   Philadelphia Tribune 22 May 4 c/4   Her next selection..from her Blacks and Blues album, worked the audience into a frenzy as they egged her on with shouts of ‘work it baby’, and ‘do it sister’.
1997   Scotl. on Sunday (Nexis) 22 Mar. (Spectrum section) 16   A stunning black model..is rippling with gold bangles and moving like an art form. ‘You can tell the haute couture models—they really know how to work it.’
2004   M. Darling B Model 212   That's the face, baby—come on! You're beautiful... Work it, baby. Work it. I love it. Yeah!

1979—2004(Hide quotations)


 P17. music while you work: see music while you work n. to be subdued to what one works in: see subdue v. Phrases. to work both sides of the street: see street n. and adj. Phrases 9. to work double tides: see tide n. 14. to work like a charm: see charm n.1 1c. to work one's fingers to the bone and variants: see bone n.1 Phrases 1a(b). to work one's ticket: see ticket n.1 6a. to work the oracle: see oracle n. 1b. to work with one's hands: see hand n. Phrases 2r.


Phrasal verbs

 PV1. With adverbs in specialized senses.  to work away  

 1. transitive. To remove, efface, or erode (esp. by labour or effort).

1602   T. Russel Diacatholicon Aureum ii. sig. B4   And selecting the subtill inward medicinable vertue, drawing it into the veynes to helpe her selfe to worke away all that offendeth her.
1745   R. Pococke Descr. East II. ii. ii. 227   They light the fires, where they have worked away all the ore that was loosened.
1778   W. Pryce Mineralogia Cornubiensis 161   This stoping is not unlike the hewing a flight of steps in a rock, where each man works away the step above that which he stands on.
1829   Q. Jrnl. Agric. 1 422   Place the index of the protractor at 89°, and at the first mark or division next to the last, apply it as before, and again work away the wood, until it fits the angle of the protractor.
1883   W. S. Gresley Gloss. Terms Coal Mining 231   Horizontal level headings driven through a pillar..in order to work away the coal.
1937   C. L. Camp & G. D. Hanna Methods in Paleontol. 37   It is best to work away the last thin shell of matrix with a hand needle or with the dental mallet.
2011   V. Holt Spiritual Facelift ii. 54   Many natural beauty experts offer a natural facelift whereby they work away your wrinkles with a deep facial tissue massage.

1602—2011(Hide quotations)


 2. intransitive. To work continuously or methodically; to keep working (at something).

a1635   R. Sibbes Light from Heaven (1638) iv. 103   We see the Physitian by his art and skill, when he sees nature working away, then he will helpe nature, till the cure be wrought.
1778   Town & Country Mag. Oct. 542/2   Come, Lubin, my lad, work away; Love, and Annette, thy toil will repay.
1855   Thackeray Rose & Ring xiv. 89   He sat down and worked away, very, very hard.
1863   E. C. Gaskell Dark Night's Work xii. 225   She was..still working away at her languages in any spare time.
1936   M. Kennedy Together & Apart i. 33   The machine in the power house..was working away for dear life.
1998   Times 25 June 50/7   He worked away at his returns and his ground-strokes.
2013   Observer (Nexis) 25 Aug. 48   A suited man, already working away furiously on his laptop.

a1635—2013(Hide quotations)


 3. intransitive. To apply oneself methodically or vigorously to eating or drinking something. Frequently with at.

1840   Thackeray Barber Cox in Comic Almanack 9   The Duchess and the great ladies were all seated,..working away at the ices and macaroons.
1866   S. W. Baker Albert N'yanza II. 37   Saat..works away with his spoon,..the soup disappearing like water in the desert.
1987   B. Duffy World as I found It (1990) 116   He worked away at an enormous welcoming meal.
2007   C. C. Williamsen Sherlock, John, & Trevor ii. 22   We were all working away at the food to the exclusion of all conversation.

1840—2007(Hide quotations)

  to work down  

  transitive. To reduce (to a particular size, state, etc.); to make smaller, flatter, finer, etc.; to wear or whittle down (literal and figurative).

1665   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 1 65   Before the Glass is wrought down to its true Figure.
1675   A. Browne Ars Pictoria (ed. 2) App. 10   Let not the Roughness of the Colour discourage you from proceeding, for that is to be wrought down.
1767   Let. Rope-dancing Monkey iv. 37   It is..surprizing, how this animated scene..could be so unnerved, so worked down to flatness unparallelled.
1784   T. Pennant Arctic Zool. I. p. cxxii   With the blade-bones, worked down to a sharp edge, they form scythes.
1834   G. Thorburn Resid. Amer. 224   When first I began to handle the hammer,..my hands blistered too; but I wrought the blister down.
1879   ‘G. Eliot’ Theophrastus Such v. 113   All human achievement must be wrought down to this spoon-meat.
1907   Carriage Monthly Mar. 330/1   Take a good welding heat, and work it down to the proper size.
2001   C. F. Taylor Native Amer. Weapons 72   The horn was worked down with a sharp knife to an even thickness.

1665—2001(Hide quotations)

  to work in  

 1. transitive. To insert, incorporate, or introduce (a physical or abstract thing).In quot. ?c1450   intransitive with object implied.

?c1450   in G. Müller Aus Mittelengl. Medizintexten (1929) 38   Anoynte where þat it is sor, with þat oyle, and it helyth, oþer werk yn with a clystir.
1598   J. Florio Worlde of Wordes   Inframettere, to inlay or worke in among other things.
1607   E. Topsell Hist. Foure-footed Beastes 78   Then scarifie the wound with that oyntment, till it be wrought in.
1675   A. Browne Ars Pictoria (ed. 2) App. 11   Working in, driving, and sweetening the same Colours one into another.
1728   E. Smith Compl. Housewife (ed. 2) 129   Work in three quarters of a pound of Sugar.
1826   M. Crosfield in Jrnl. Friends Hist. Soc. 20 93   The 5 American Epistles..abound with choice passages of Scripture well wrought in.
1847   A. Helps Friends in Council I. i. viii. 124   I would try and work in the old good thing with the new.
1870   E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest (ed. 2) II. App. 584   A..tale in which several particulars..are worked in with a lofty contempt for chronology.
1930   E. Waugh Vile Bodies (1938) ix. 147   Part of Butcher Cumberland's army... It's always good to work in a little atmosphere like that.
1984   Gardening from Which? July 26/1   Work in plenty of leaf-mould.
2007   Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Nexis) 17 June e9   This last phrase appears to be Norm's catch-cry, as he manages to work it in several times during our conversation.

?c1450—2007(Hide quotations)


 2. intransitive. To make one's way in, esp. gradually or with difficulty.

1703   [implied in: Philos. Trans. 1702–03 (Royal Soc.) 23 1297   By this Gnawing and Working in with their Body, they [sc. animalcules] cause a most troublesome Itching.].
1886   C. Bigg Christian Platonists Alexandria vi. 233   Great is the truth and it will prevail, if it have but time to work in.
1918   Westm. Gaz. 29 Apr. 5/4   Yorkshire troops..threw the enemy out of the village..but the enemy again worked in.
2008   C. Wright et al. IT Regulatory & Standards Compliance Handbk. xiii. 328   Start at the perimeter and work in towards the centre.

1703—2008(Hide quotations)

 3. intransitive. With with.

 a. Of a thing: to fit in with something else; to be suitable to or in harmony with a plan, system, etc.

1849   A. Helps Friends in Council ii. i. 12   All he meets seems to work in with, and assimilate itself to, his own peculiar subject.
1896   Rep. Sel. Comm. Old-age Pensions 28 in Votes & Proc. (New S. Wales Legislative Assembly) V. 831   I should like to know how our present police administration works in with the existing system.
1920   Fourth Estate (N.Y.) 27 Nov. 25/2   Some impractical scheme for developing business which will not work in with our plans at all.
1944   Bath Weekly Chron. & Herald 24 June 3/1 (advt.)    By budgeting my points to work in with the rest of the rations, we make out very well.
2003   Sc. Sun 22 Mar. (Supergoals section) 6/3   I've been doing the community coaching for Motherwell... It works in well with my course in Sports Studies.

1849—2003(Hide quotations)


 b. Of a person: (originally) to fit in with a group of people; (later) to cooperate or get along with someone.

1875   C. Nordhoff Communistic Societies U.S. 159   If one comes with low motives, he will not be comfortable with us;..but if he has the true vocation he will gradually work in with us.
1894   ‘Old Sleuth’ Wonder Jack iv. 97   If you will work in with me you can make the best pull you ever made.
1915   E. Fenwick Diary 14 Oct. in Elsie Fenwick in Flanders (1981) 89   I had tried so hard to work in with her.
1960   M. Spark Ballad of Peckham Rye viii. 181   If Mr. Druce thought I was working in with you, he'd kill me.
1974   O. Manning Rain Forest i. ix. 101   I am a very fast learner, and I work in well with Mr. Axelrod.
2001   J. Hickey in M. Hickey Irish Days (2004) 59   The bricklayers..depended on the carpenters and the carpenters worked in with them.

1875—2001(Hide quotations)

  to work off  
 1. transitive.

 a. To finish working at (a task, etc.); to get through or dispose of by working. Also in extended use.

1618   G. Chapman tr. Hesiod Georgicks ii. 20   Thy Plough-drawne Oxe; thy Maid, without her spouse, And wisely hir'd; that businesse in thy house, May first worke off; and then to Tillage come [no exact equivalent in Gk. original].
1778   J. Haigh Dyer's Assistant 33   When a Vat has been heated two or three Times, and a good Part has been worked off.
1795   W. Woodfall et al. Impartial Rep. Deb. 6th Session 17th Parl. II. 102   They, therefore, requested to be exempted till they had worked off their stock in hand.
1892   W. S. Gilbert Mountebanks i   Giuseppe, he's to be married tomorrow,..and so on until we are all worked off.
1920   Westm. Gaz. 2 Dec. 4/2   When the existing contracts for new steamships are worked off.
1997   P. Prown & H. P. Newquist Legends of Rock Guitar xvii. 131/1   Gregg returned to L. A. to work off the rest of the Liberty contract.
2004   G. P. O'Reilly et al. in Networks 2004 Proc. 11th Internat. Telecommunications Network & Planning Symp. 210/1   The second labor shift cleared out imports while working off the remaining backlog of exports.

1618—2004(Hide quotations)


 b. To pay off (a debt) gradually or in stages; (now usually) to earn money to pay off a (debt); (also, esp. in early use) to discharge (a debt or obligation) by labour instead of a monetary payment. Cf. earlier to work out 2 at Phrasal verbs 1.

1701   View of Paris 90   In less than Nine Years they [sc. the French government] cannot work off half their gross Debt.
1781   W. Coxe Acct. Prisons & Hospitals in Russia i. 6   The principle of obliging the debtor to work off his debts by his own labour is just and plausible in theory.
1837   Legality or Illegality of Imprisonment for Debt? III. 4   In other countries..the objects of the law are to..assist rather than impede him [sc. the debtor] in the practice of honest industry, whereby he may obtain subsistence and work off his debts.
1898   C. T. Eben tr. G. Mittelberger Journey To Pennsylvania 31   He must work his debt off as a slave and poor serf.
1917   P. G. Wodehouse Uneasy Money iv. 23   I'm an English countess, doing barefoot dancing to work off the mortgage on the ancestral castle.
1966   M. F. Thorp Sarah Orne Jewett 9   She worked off the mortgage on the farm and began to put money in the bank.
1986   P. Auster Locked Room vii. 122   People who owe him money are rarely sued or taken to court—but are given a chance to work off their debts by rendering him services.
2005   Sunday Times (Nexis) 14 Aug. (Features section) 38   Many are opting to stay on during the summer to get jobs for working off that overdraft.

1701—2005(Hide quotations)

 2. transitive.

 a. To remove (something material) by persistent rubbing, scraping, etc.In quot. 1640   in figurative context.

1621   G. Markham Hungers Preuention xii. 161   Gently rubbing and chafing the Lymed feathers betweene your fingers, working off the Lyme.
1640   T. Fuller Joseph's Coat 175   Some Theeves have eat off their Irons, and fretted off their Fetters with Mercury water; but there is no way to worke off the Chaines of our Naturall Corruption.
1703   S. Parker tr. Eusebius Eccl. Hist. viii. 146   When the Flesh of her Sides and Breasts had been wrought off with Pincers, she was Sentenc'd to the Sea.
1799   Trans. Soc. Arts 17 337   Work off the remaining wood with a large firming chissel.
1864   Amer. Agriculturalist Dec. 338/1   The liver may now be disengaged, by working it off from its attachments next the kidneys.
1895   Stone July 163   This tool is used to work off the inequalities left by the pick.
1930   Pop. Sci. Monthly May 134/3   If a deep nick must be ground out, the edge left by the grinding wheel must be worked off on the hand stone before you can finish it to a keen cutting edge.
1986   J. Townshend in A. Limon et al. Home Owner Man. (ed. 2) vi. ii. 846   The flame will soften the paint so that it is easily worked off with a scraper.
2010   Tampa (Florida) Tribune (Nexis) 6 June (Sports section) 2   Mangrove snapper are just big enough to fillet, and the skin is then worked off with a thin-bladed knife.

1621—2010(Hide quotations)


 b. To reduce or eliminate (a feeling, condition, etc.) by action or effort; (now) esp. to get rid of (surplus energy, strong emotion, etc.) through vigorous exercise; to take exercise to lose (weight, or food as representing this).

1678   T. Rymer Trag. Last Age 83   This Scene having wrought off the Remains of Phedra's frenzy, in the next she seems more calm.
1702   A. de la Pryme Let. 27 Mar. in Diary (1870) ii. 251   Returning to his labour,..he sweat and wrought it [sc. canine madness] of without any physic.
1737   H. Bracken Farriery Improved xxv. 368   Nature is working off some latent Enemy.
1756   C. Smart tr. Horace Satires ii. ii, in tr. Horace Wks. (1826) II. 97   When exercise has worked off your squeamishness..then let me see you despise mean viands.
1836   F. Marryat Mr. Midshipman Easy II. x. 280   You..take some of his quack medicine, and then he will allow you a run on shore to work it off.
1873   J. A. Symonds Stud. Greek Poets vii. 194   Should a man arise capable of seeing rightly and living purely, he may work off the curse.
1922   J. S. Kingston Our Homes 108   A man sitting writing all day could not work off the calories contained in the food that a man would require who was using a pick and shovel all day.
1943   E. Blyton Summer Term at St Clare's viii. 53   Carlotta worked off some of her restlessness in the playgrounds, but still had plenty left by the time the bell went for classes again.
1957   Washington Post 20 Sept. c10/5   A ‘slimnastics’ class—to help the ladies work off the pounds gained by the gourmet cooking.
1996   Guardian 23 Nov. (Weekend Suppl.) 80/4   To work off our meal..we took a hike along the stunning and challenging Kalalau trail.
2003   Here's Health Sept. 59/3   Go for something more energetic, such as capoeira or step aerobics, if you need to work off pent-up energy.

1678—2003(Hide quotations)


 3. transitive. Printing. To print off (a work, sheet, etc.) from type or a plate, esp. in a final form ready for publication or distribution.

1624   D. Featley Romish Fisher Caught To Rdr. sig. A4v   I could not conueniently procure the proofs to be brought vnto mee, before they were wrought off.
1662   J. Evelyn Sculptura iv. 36   The very first..who published any works of this kind under their names, wrought off by the Rolling-Presse.
1701   Laconics (new ed.) iii. 89   That..execrable Dog of a Printer..has Work'd off the last Sheet..without Sending me a Proof.
1754   Gentleman's Mag. Feb. 58/1   An accident..to the Plate prevented a sufficient number [of etchings] from being wrought off.
1868   E. Edwards Life Sir W. Ralegh II. Introd. p. lxxxi   By an accident of a miscarriage of proofs in the Post Office, the three letters..were worked off, prior to correction of the press.
1882   C. Pebody Eng. Journalism (1883) xv. 107   The printers..often found themselves working off papers half through the night and all through the day.
1932   S. Morison Eng. Newspaper iii. 64   Copies of The Post Man, being worked off upon a full, instead of the normal half-sheet, [etc.].
1986   W. J. Rorabaugh Craft Apprentice v. 105   Peck and Clapp worked off more than a hundred copies of one side of a magazine.
2004   L. P. Fleming in Hist. Bk. in Canada v. x. 216   Thomas Chorley set the type and then worked off 100 handbills.

1624—2004(Hide quotations)


4. transitive. To dissuade from an opinion, belief, idea, etc. Cf. sense 39a. Obsolete.

1627   R. S. tr. V. Cepari Life Gonzaga ii. xi. 231   He..seriously did his endeauour, to worke him off from that conceit.
1644   H. Burton Vindic. Churches 1   A corrupt, prophane, polluted Land, not yet washed from her old superstitions,..not yet wrought off from the spirit of bondage.
1655   T. Stanley Hist. Philos. I. iii. 56   Glauco..had..aimed at some great office in the Common-wealth, not to be wrought off from this fancy.., untill adrest by some friends to Socrates, who made him acknowledge his own errour.
1702   W. Nicolson Let. to Dr. Kennet 28   I am strangely harden'd and impenitent in this Matter, and not to be wrought off from any of my Opinions.

1627—1702(Hide quotations)


5. transitive. To make, create, produce. Obsolete.

1653   W. Harvey tr. Seneca in W. Harvey Anat. Exercitations Pref. sig. a8v   Virgils face is his Idea, and the Exemplar of his future designe: now that which the Artist takes from this Idea, and worketh off [L. operi suo imposuit], is the Picture.
1695–6   Act 7 & 8 Will. III c. 20 §3   A..profitable Invention..for the..more speedy..knitting of..Stockings..whereby great Quantities are wrought off in a little tyme.
1718   W. Melmoth Let. 10 Mar. in Lett. Several Subj. (1749) II. lxii. 118   I am willing enough to join with you in thinking, that they [sc. the souls of both sexes] maybe wrought off from different models.
1774   J. Granger Suppl. to Biogr. Hist. Eng. 271   The characteristic head of Henry VII..., which is unquestionably a cast from a mould wrought off from that politic prince's face.

1653—1774(Hide quotations)

 6. transitive. colloquial.

 a. To dispose of or pass off, esp. by fraud, trickery, or misrepresentation; to palm off. Also: to perpetrate (a swindle, scheme, etc.). Chiefly with on. Now rare.

1813   M. L. Weems Let. in Ford's M. L. Weems: Wks. & Ways (1929) III. 92   The Maps..may be worked off and in time to give you bank interest.
1869   Galaxy Sept. 353   Thieves use fences to ‘work off’ stolen goods.
1884   R. Kipling Let. 21 Nov. in C. E. Carrington R. Kipling (1955) iv. 58   I've been writing a story... I'm trying to work it off on some alien paper to get myself pice thereby.
1891   N. Gould Double Event xvi. 112   A nice little swindle you worked off on me that time.
1900   ‘M. Twain’ in N.Y. Times 7 July (Sat. Rev. Bks. & Art Suppl.) 461/3   He has not written as many plays as I have, but he has had that God-given talent, which I lack, of working them off on the manager.
1948   V. Palmer Golconda viii. 58   Corney had been skiting about his claim for months, and everyone knew it was a duffer, but he hung on in the hope of working it off on someone.

1813—1948(Hide quotations)


 b. reflexive. To pass oneself off as someone else. rare.

1894   Railroad Trainmen's Jrnl. Dec. 1140/2   He was trying to work himself off as a Trainman.
1897   ‘O. Thanet’ Missionary Sheriff 7   The lightning-rods ain't in it with this last scheme—working his self off as a Methodist parson.
1908   G. B. McCutcheon Husbands of Edith 101   You are the alleged sister of the woman who is working herself off as Mrs. Medcroft.

1894—1908(Hide quotations)


 7. transitive. colloquial. To put to death; to hang. Now rare.

1841   Dickens Barnaby Rudge lxiii. 304   He was ready for working off; such being the case, he considered it their duty, as a civilised and enlightened crowd, to work him off.
1849   H. A. Wise Los Gringos xix. 116   Soon after, they were properly worked off, and swung, dangling, lifeless figures.
1909   Canada Law Jrnl. 45 469   An executioner..attempted to shew how a victim was ‘worked off’.

1841—1909(Hide quotations)

  to work out  
 1. transitive.

 a. To bring about or produce (a result) by labour or effort; to attain or accomplish (a plan or purpose), esp. with difficulty. Now archaic and rare. In quot. 1600: to preserve to the end.

1534   Bible (Tyndale rev. Joye) Phil. ii. 12   Worke out [Gk. κατεργάζεσθε] youre awne saluacion with feare and tremblynge.
1600   Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 2 i. i. 181   We..Knew that we ventured on such dangerous seas, That if we wrought out life, twas ten to one.  
1621   T. Granger Familiar Expos. Eccles. vi. ii. 148   Doth he not most often by his wit worke out his woe? and by his strength procure his owne ruine?
1633   Bp. J. Hall Plaine Explic. Hard Texts i. 537   Hee loves to injoy blessings, but not to earne, and worke them out.
1641   J. Jackson True Evangelical Temper iii. 225   To go about to work out true peace by..compliances with men, is an endlesse work.
1768   A. Tucker Light of Nature Pursued II. iii. 298   Made unknowingly to work out the advantage of fellow-creatures, whereof we have not the least knowledge.
1805   Wordsworth Waggoner iv. 118   When the malicious Fates are bent On working out an ill intent.
1851   Tennyson Princess (ed. 4) ii. 33   O lift your natures up:..work out your freedom.
1874   J. R. Green Short Hist. Eng. People ii. §7. 95   The fortunes of England were being slowly wrought out in every incident.
2011   A. Rugeruza Through Trials to Triumph i. xii. 81   It is difficult to see what God is doing when we are facing trials, but God works his purpose out even through our tears.

1534—2011(Hide quotations)


 b. To make, fashion, or form (a material thing), esp. by digging or cutting; to carve out, dig out, etc. Now rare.Usually with work in past tense or past participle in form wrought.

1600   E. Fairfax tr. Tasso Godfrey of Bulloigne x. xxix. 185   A hollow caue was in the craggie stone, Wrought out by hand [It. fatta] a number yeeres to fore.
1653   J. Rogers Ohel or Beth-Shemesh i. xiv. 187   Learne (saith Solomon) Prov. 30.26. of the Conies (poore little things) yet they with labour worke out holes and burrowes in the roots of the Rocks.
1719   D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe 79   When I had wrought out some Boards..I made large Shelves.
1774   O. Goldsmith Hist. Earth VIII. 108   The old one then, with as much assiduity as it before worked out its hole, now closes the mouth of the passage.
1826   H. Cole tr. M. Luther Select Wks. III. 260   A golden vessel wrought out with file and hammer.
1837   E. Taylor Irish Tourist 179   These passages and chambers..had been wrought out by men's hands at some very distant period.
1920   T. Mainland in J. G. F. M. Heddle & T. Mainland Orkney & Shetland 124   Wonderful caves and subterranean passages, wrought out by the action of the sea.

1600—1920(Hide quotations)


 2. intransitive. Originally: to discharge (a debt or obligation) by labour instead of a monetary payment. Now also more generally: to earn money to pay off (a debt). Cf. to work off 1b at Phrasal verbs 1.In quot. a1535   in extended use.

a1535   T. More Dialoge of Comfort (1553) xxiv. sig. U.iv   Anthony. There shall no man (whych denieth our sauiour once, & after attaineth remission) scape thorow that denying, one penny the better cheape, but that he shal ere he come in heauen, full suerly paye therefore. Vincent. He shal peraduenture worke it out afterward Uncle in the frutefull workes of penaunce, prayer & almose dede.
1614   T. Godwin Romanæ Historiæ Anthologia 28   They were delivered vp vnto their creditors by the Praetor to worke out the debt, so that after the payment thereof either by mony or worke, they did recover their libertie.
1670   A. Marvell Let. 8 Dec. in Poems & Lett. (1971) II. 120   Who can not pay his 5s..shall worke it out in the house of correction.
1773   Pennsylvania Gaz. 28 Apr. 3/2   Whereas I..am indebted £28:7:6,..I am desirous to engage and work it out.
1828   L. Kennedy & T. B. Grainger Tenancy of Land 297   The highway-tax is most frequently worked out.
1841   Dickens Old Curiosity Shop i. xiv. 168   Mind you're here my lad to work it out.
1901   B. T. Washington Up from Slavery iii. 59   The charge..was ten dollars per month. I was expected to pay a part of this in cash and to work out the remainder.
1948   Billboard 20 Mar. 36   If the batoneer was suspended, he would not be able to work out his debt.
1990   St. Petersburg (Florida) Times (Nexis) 7 Feb.   People should be able to work out their debts free of harassment and hardship.
2009   M. Allen Survival Guide to Debt iii. 71   You can replace higher monthly payments with lower ones, giving you a way to work out your debt with a little less strain on your monthly budget.

a1535—2009(Hide quotations)


 3. transitive. To work (a mine, vein, seam, etc.) until it is exhausted. Usually in passive.

1545   in G. C. Bond Early Hist. Mining (1924) 8   [The parties shall cause all such coalpits as shall hereafter be] clenewrought out and gettyn [to be] caste in and stopped.
1631   E. Jorden Disc. Nat. Bathes x. 48   Aristotle also tells of a Copper Myne..which being wrought out, turned to an iron Myne.
1770   tr. J.-B. Chappe d'Auteroche Journey into Siberia 190   When one pit is worked out, another is sought for by following the metallic channels.
1827   Scott Chron. Canongate I. vii. 143   The Highlands were indeed a rich mine; but they have, I think, been fairly wrought out.
1857   W. Westgarth Victoria & Gold Mines 226   The diggings, the greater part of which..had been abandoned as ground ‘worked out’, to use the digger's phrase.
1906   J. Hockaday in Victoria Hist. County Cornwall I. 520/1   As one part [of the rock] was worked out it was filled in with rubble from the new excavations.
1957   Gloss. Geol. (Amer. Geol. Inst.)    Rib,..an elongated pillar left to support the hanging wall, in working out a vein.
2013   Northern Echo (Nexis) 25 Apr. 21   These closures were managed as the mines were worked out.

1545—2013(Hide quotations)


 4. transitive. To bring or get out, esp. gradually or with difficulty. Now esp.: to get rid of, remove, or expel through effort. Cf. to work off 2 at Phrasal verbs 1.

?1560   T. Norton Orations of Arsanes sig. *.ijv   He..worketh out of them [sc. floures]..the swete tasting..& healing honey.
1595   T. Lodge Fig for Momus sig. Gv   Uolcatius that subborn'd, deuis'd, and wrought To worke out Themis, from the place he sought.
1605   Bacon Of Aduancem. Learning ii. sig. Yy2   That..you may worke out the knots and Stondes of the mind.  
1607   E. Topsell Hist. Foure-footed Beastes 226   If the Fox be in the earth,..they take this course to worke him out.
1660   Dryden Astræa Redux 14   Tears of joy..Work out and expiate our former guilt.
1691   J. Hartcliffe Treat. Virtues p. x   Strong Bodies will work out the Poyson they take, by degrees.
1759   Ann. Reg. 1758 3/2   To work out the old servants of the Crown, in order to make way for a more uniform system.
1814   J. Nicholson Farmer's Assistant 33   Stir the curd till it is gathered; put it in a strainer, and with your hands work out all the whey.
1897   C. I. Dodd Domest. Econ. xii. 61   Work the lumps out while adding the milk and boiling the sauce up each time.
1906   Jrnl. Abnormal Psychol. 1 37   We might properly say that the ‘uncompleted emotion’..could be given an opportunity to work itself out.
1985   Black Enterprise May 106/1   Holding the bottle at a 45 degree angle, slowly work out the cork.
1996   Plow Snowboarding Mag. Dec. 78/3   We could just make out two small figures plodding along, which we presumed were Kyle and Ed, slowly working the toxins out.
2010   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 21 July c2/1   I could use a good neck rub,..something to work out the knot of tensions I had acquired.

?1560—2010(Hide quotations)


 5. intransitive. Of a thing: to go or come out of something or someone, esp. gradually, or from having been embedded or enclosed. Also: to work loose and come out.In quot. 1698: to lose effect gradually; to wear off.

1591   W. Burton Certaine Questions & Answeres f. 22   It [sc. the power of God] worketh out of God himselfe, in the creatures, as when he created all things.
1601   P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World II. xxx. xiii. 394   To draw forth spils of bones, and make them to worke out.
1683   J. Moxon Mech. Exercises II. 11   Underlays..are often apt to work out, and..subject it to an unstable and loose position.
1698   J. Fryer New Acct. E.-India & Persia 127   The Liquor working out by his Walking, he began to grow weary.
1794   D. Steel Elements & Pract. Rigging & Seamanship I. 151   Forelock, a small wedge of iron driven through a hole near the end of iron pins to keep them from working out.
1832   F. Marryat Newton Forster I. iii. 33   Fresh splinters of the bone continually worked out.
1876   Encycl. Brit. IV. 275/2   There are three modes of cleansing—..2d, by running the beer into casks, and then allowing the yeast to work out through the bung holes.
1921   Pop. Mech. Aug. 276/1   The end links of the cross chains..are prevented from working out.
1993   Guardian (Nexis) 25 Mar. 3   Twenty-four hours would be allowed for the drugs to work out of his system.
1998   P. Gill Electr. Power Equipm. Maintenance & Testing v. 200   Moisture in the interior of the insulation is working out through the initially dried portions.

1591—1998(Hide quotations)


6. transitive. To wear (something) out, esp. by labour, or by continued application of force. Obsolete.

1609   E. Topsell House-holder iii. 166   So many worke out their Seruauntes strength, & then turn them out to begge.
1611   R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues at Ouvrer   Le temps ouvre. Time workes (or weares) out euerie thing.
1848   Thackeray Vanity Fair lvii. 514   During what long thankless nights had she worked out her fingers for little Georgy.

1609—1848(Hide quotations)


 a. transitive. To solve (a problem or question) by calculation or arithmetic; to calculate (an amount, etc.); (more generally) to find the solution to (a problem, difficulty, etc.) by reasoning. Also: to find out or come to (an answer, solution). Also with clause as object.

1719   Free-thinker No. 155.   Thus the Algebraist sets out with a very few simple, but clear Principles, which enable him to work out a very intricate Question.
1774   P. V. Fithian Jrnl. 16 Aug. in Jrnl. & Lett. (1965) 169   Bob..worked out three Sums in Reduction compound.
1847   Dickens Dombey & Son (1848) xix. 192   Day after day, Old Sol and Captain Cuttle kept her reckoning..and worked out her course, with the chart spread before them.