A Dictionary of the English Language
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Work (noun)

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Work. n.s. [weorc, Saxon; werk, Dutch.]

  1. Toil; labour; employment.

    Bread, correction, and work for a servant. Ecclus. xxxiii.

    In the bottom of some mines in Germany there grow vegetables, which the work-folks say have magical virtue. Bac.

    The ground, unbid, gives more than we can ask;
    But work is pleasure, when we chuse our task.
    Dryden.

  2. A state of labour.

    All the world is perpetually at work, only that our poor mortal lives should pass the happier for that little time we possess them, or else end the better when we lose them: upon this occasion riches came to be coveted, honours esteemed, friendship pursued, and virtues admired. Temple.

  3. Bungling attempt.

    It is pleasant to see what work our adversaries make with this innocent canon: sometimes 'tis a mere forgery of hereticks, and sometimes the bishops that met there were not so wise as they should have been. Stillingfleet.

  4. Flowers or embroidery of the needle.

    Round her work she did empale,
    With a fair border wrought of sundry flowers,
    Inwoven with an ivy-winding trail.
    Spenser.

    That handkerchief, you gave me: I must take out the work: a likely piece of work, that you should find it in your chamber, and know not who left it there. This is some minx's token, and I must take out the work? There, give it your hobbyhorse: wheresoever you had it, I'll take out no work on't. Shakesp. Othello.

  5. Any fabrick or compages of art.

    Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone,
    But felt th' approaches of too warm a sun.
    Pope.

  6. Action; feat; deed.

    The instrumentalness of riches to works of charity, have rendered it necessary in every Christian commonwealth by laws to secure propriety. Hammond.

    As to the composition or dissolution of mixt bodies, which is the chief work of elements, and requires an intire application of the agents, water hath the principality and excess over earth. Digby.

    Nothing lovelier can be found in woman,
    Than good works in her husband to promote.
    Milton.

    While as the works of bloody Mars employ'd,
    The wanton youth inglorious peace enjoy'd.
    Pope.

  7. Any thing made.

    Where is that holy fire, which verse is said
    To have? Is that enchanting force decay'd?
    Verse, that draws nature's works from nature's law,
    Thee, her best work, to her work cannot draw.
    Donne.

    O fairest of creation! last and best
    Of all God's works! creature, in whom excels
    Whatever can to fight or thought be form'd;
    Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet,
    How art thou lost!
    Milton's Paradise Lost.

  8. Management; treatment.

    Let him alone; I'll go another way to work with him. Shak.

  9. To set on Work To employ; to engage.

    It setteth those wits on work in better things, which would be else employed in worse. Hooker.

Sources: Bacon, Francis (396) · Digby, Kenelm (13) · Donne, John (44) · Dryden, John (788) · The Bible - Ecclesiasticus (27) · Hammond, Henry (47) · Hooker, Richard (175) · Milton, John (449) · Shakespeare's Othello (60) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Spenser, Edmund (254) · Stillingfleet, Edward (38) · Temple, William (54) · Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (36)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Work (noun)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 28, 2012. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=5709.


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