A Dictionary of the English Language
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Work (verb neuter)

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To Work. v.n. pret. worked, or wrought. [weorcan, Saxon; werken, Dutch.]

  1. To labour; to travail; to toil.

        Good Kent, how shall I live and work
    To match thy goodness? life will be too short.

    Go and work; for no straw shall be given you. Ex. v. 18.

    Whether we work or play, or sleep or wake,
    Our life doth pass, and with time's wings doth fly.

  2. To be in action; to be in motion.

    Glory grows guilty of detested crimes,
    When for fame's sake
    We bend to that the working of the heart.

        In Morat your hopes a crown design'd,
    And all the woman work'd within your mind.

  3. To act; to carry on operations.

    May be the Lord will work for us. 1 Sa. xiv. 6.

            Our better part remains
    To work in close design.

  4. To act as a manufacturer.

    They that work in fine flax. Is. xix. 9.

  5. To ferment.

    Into wine and strong beer put some like substances, while they work, which may make them fume and inflame less. Bac.

    Try the force of imagination upon staying the working of beer, when the barm is put in. Bacon.

    If in the wort of beer, while it worketh before it be tunned, the burrage be often changed with fresh, it will make a sovereign drink for melancholy. Bacon's Natural History.

  6. To operate; to have effect.

        With some other business put the king
    From these sad thoughts that work too much upon him.

    All things work together for good to them that love God. Rom. viii. 28.

    Gravity worketh weakly, both far from the earth, and also within the earth. Bacon.

    Although the same tribute laid by consent, or by imposing, be all one to the purse, yet it works diversely on the courage: no people overcharged with tribute is fit for empire. Bacon.

    These positive undertakings wrought upon many to think that this opportunity should not be lost. Clarendon.

    Nor number, nor example with him wrought
    To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind.

    We see the workings of gratitude in the Israelites. South.

    Objects of pity, when the cause is new,
    Would work too fiercely on the giddy crowd.

    Poison will work against the stars: beware,
    For ev'ry meal an antidote prepare.
    Dryd. jun. Juvenal.

    When this reverence begins to work in him, next consider his temper of mind. Locke.

    This so wrought upon the child, that afterwards he desired to be taught. Locke.

    Humours and manners work more in the meaner sort than with the nobility. Addison on Italy.

    The ibibaboca is a foot round, and three yards and a half long: his colours are white, black, and red: of all serpents his bite is the most pernicious, yet worketh the slowest. Grew.

  7. To obtain by diligence.

    Without the king's assent
    You wrought to be a legate.
    Shakesp. Henry VIII.

    He hath wrought with God this day. 1 Sa. xiv. 45.

  8. To act internally; to operate as a purge, or other physick.

                Work on,
    My medicine, work! thus credulous fools are caught.

    I should have doubted the operations of antimony, where such a potion could not work. Brown's Vulgar Errours.

    It is benign, nor far from the nature of aliment, into which, upon defect of working, it is oft times converted. Brown.

    Most purges heat a little; and all of them work best, that is, cause the blood so to do, as do fermenting liquors, in warm weather, or in a warm room. Grew's Cosmol.

  9. To act as on an object.

    Let it be pain of body, or distress of mind, there's matter yet left for philosophy and constancy to work upon. L'Estr.

    Natural philosophy has sensible objects to work upon; but then it often puzzles the reader with the intricacy of its notions. Addison.

    The predictions Bickerstaff published, relating to his death, too much affected and worked on his imagination. Swift.

  10. To make way.

    Body shall up to spirit work. Milton.

    Who would trust chance, since all men have the seeds
    Of good and ill, which should work upward first?

  11. To be tossed or agitated.

        Vex'd by wint'ry storms, Benacus raves,
    Confus'd with working sands and rolling waves.

Sources: The Bible - 1. Samuel (18) · Addison, Joseph (408) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Browne, Thomas (204) · Clarendon, Edward (73) · Davies, John (45) · Dryden, John (788) · The Bible - Exodus (25) · Grew, Nehemiah (36) · Shakespeare's Henry VIII (62) · The Bible - Isaiah (16) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · L'Estrange, Roger (131) · Locke, John (269) · Shakespeare's Love's Labours Lost (33) · Milton, John (449) · Shakespeare's Othello (60) · The Bible - Romans (11) · South, Robert (158) · Swift, Jonathan (306)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Work (verb neuter)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: June 27, 2012. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/work-verb-neuter/.

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