Also found in: Wikipedia.
The entirety of what's available; all the related elements of something. Wow, they really offer the works at this ice cream bar. There's much more than just whipped cream and sprinkles here! I want a traditional wedding, with the cake, the dress—the works.
a lot of something; everything possible. (The works can be a lot of food, good treatment, bad treatment, etc. *Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) Bill: Shall we order a snack or a big meal? Jane: I'm hungry. Let's get the works. But, your honor. I shouldn't get the works. I only drove too fast!
1. Everything, the full range of possibilities, as in He ordered a pizza with the works, or All right, tell me, give me the works on it. This usage derives from works in the sense of "a complete set of parts for a machine or mechanism." [Colloquial; late 1800s]
2. A beating or other severe treatment. This usage is often put as give someone the works, as in They took him outside and gave him the works. [Slang; first half of 1900s]
the whole works
You say the works or the whole works to mean all the things that would normally be included in a particular situation. Our agents are watching all exits from New York City — airports, train stations, bus stations, tunnels, bridges, the works. Amazing place he's got there — squash courts, swimming pool, jacuzzi, the whole works.
the (whole) ˈworks(informal) everything that you could want, need or expect: We went to the chip shop and had the works: fish, chips and mushy peas.
n. the entire amount; everything. I’d like my hamburger with onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard—the works. She’s getting the works at the beauty shop—cut, wash, dye, and set.