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the works

1. 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.
2. slang A very thorough or severe beating. When John refused to pay protection money to the mafia, two of their goons took him outside and gave him the works.
See also: work

work (one's) way into (something or some place)

1. To twist or contort one's body in order to fit into some snug place or thing. We had to work our way into the narrow crevice to pass through to the other side. I worked my way into the crawlspace so I could access the electrical wiring.
2. To do the work required to enter into a particular role, job, profession, industry, etc. I decided to change my degree to computer programming so I Could eventually work my way into the video game industry. She's trying to work her way into a management position.
See also: way, work

work (one's) way through (something)

1. To remain continually engaged in some task. Often used when the task is long-term, tedious, or plodding. We're working our way through the set of problems the math teachers assigned. Even if I'm not really enjoying a book, I feel like I have to work my way through it once I've started it.
2. To work in order to pay for some long-term educational program. Kate is working her way through college, but it's taken a while, as she's only been able to attend classes part-time. You don't even realize how well off you are. When I was your age, I had to work my way through school!
See also: through, way, work

work (someone or something)

1. informal To manipulate or exploit someone or something to one's own advantage. I learned from a young age how to work the system to suit my needs. He's been working the boss for months in order to gain access to the financial records.
2. informal To arouse, gratify, or enchant someone, especially a group, in an artful manner meant to influence them in a particular way. As a comedian, you have to know how to work the audience, no matter what they're like. My daughter knows how cute she is, and she is now a master at working the people around her for attention.
See also: work

work into (something)

1. To insert, introduce, or implement someone or something into something else, especially when doing so does not come naturally or easily. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "work" and "into." The director even worked a clever reference to Casablanca into the film toward the end. You can try working a clause like that into the contract, but I bet their lawyers will have an issue with it. It wasn't in the script, but I bet we could work your character into this scene.
2. To cause some substance to absorbed or mixed into something else by rubbing, mixing, or massaging vigorously. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "work" and "into." He worked the ointment into my aching shoulder. You'll have to work in the moisturizer for a good while before the leather starts to soften up completely. Start working the egg and milk into the flour to form the dough.
3. To cause something to change into another state by rubbing, mixing, or massaging vigorously continuously and at length. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "work" and "into." To create the meringue, use your whisk to work the egg whites and sugar into a thick foam until small peaks are able to stand up on the surface of the mixture. Now, make sure you work the soap into a lather all over your hands and between your fingers.
4. To instill a particular mental state in someone by provoking or agitating them. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "work" and "into." I was worked into a state of blind panic when my kids didn't answer my phone calls. All his pestering comments and questions worked me into a really bad mood by the end of the day.
See also: work

work through

1. To remain engaged continuously in some task in order to complete it, especially that which is very tedious or time-consuming. I've been working through a new biography on Thomas Jefferson recently.
2. To put in the required effort to understand or resolve something. Just give me a minute to work through the problem. I know he's got a lot of personal issues that he's working through with a therapist.
3. To strive to move something through some process or situation, especially one that is particularly laborious or difficult. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "work" and "through." Against all odds, the senator was able to work the legislation successfully through congress. I've been trying to work this story through our editorial team, but they're incredibly picky about what they publish.
4. To expend time and energy forcing something through some kind of material, especially that which is particularly tough or impermeable. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "work" and "through." It took me nearly 10 minutes to work the needle through the leather. The butcher struggled to work the cleaver through the hind leg of the animal.
See also: through, work
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.


 (one's way) into something
1. . to get into something tight or small gradually and with effort. He worked himself into the dark corner and hid there for a while. The mouse worked into the crack and got stuck.
2. . to get more deeply involved in something gradually. I don't quite understand my job. I'll work my way into it gradually. Fred worked into the daily routine gradually.


 (one's way) through something
1. . Lit. to work to earn money to pay the bills while one is in college, medical school, law school, etc. I worked my way through college as a waiter.
2. . Fig. to progress through something complicated. I spent hours working my way through the tax forms. I worked through the forms very slowly.
3. . Fig. to struggle through an emotional trauma. When she had finally worked through her grief, she was able to function normally again. Larry worked through the pain.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in classic literature ?
Hesiod's father (whose name, by a perversion of "Works and Days",
There is fairly definite evidence to warrant our acceptance of this: the dialect of the "Works and Days" is shown by Rzach (3) to contain distinct Aeolisms apart from those which formed part of the general stock of epic poetry.
In parts, only little bits, in other parts, large portions of a rhombic plate had been left between the opposed basins, but the work, from the unnatural state of things, had not been neatly performed.
Considering how flexible thin wax is, I do not see that there is any difficulty in the bees, whilst at work on the two sides of a strip of wax, perceiving when they have gnawed the wax away to the proper thinness, and then stopping their work.
President Barbicane and the members of the Gun Club warmly congratulated their engineer Murchison; the cyclopean work had been accomplished with extraordinary rapidity.
Keeping ever close by the work of excavation, he busied himself incessantly with the welfare and health of his workpeople, and was singularly fortunate in warding off the epidemics common to large communities of men, and so disastrous in those regions of the globe which are exposed to the influences of tropical climates.
"Got to work after supper." And after supper they worked until ten o'clock, under the blazing electric lights, until the last piece of under-clothing was ironed and folded away in the distributing room.
About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round the room, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they saw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, and seemed mightily delighted.
It represents but an attempt on my part--a very feeble one perhaps--to give the reader what little help I can in surmounting difficulties which a long study of Nietzsche's life and works has enabled me, partially I hope, to overcome.
Washington's work. It is this conception of it and of him that I have ever since carried with me.
"I take it as proof that Berkeley's metaphysics did not work, because--" Ernest paused calmly for a moment.
It was a summer of prosperity, all over the country, and the country ate generously of packing house products, and there was plenty of work for all the family, in spite of the packers' efforts to keep a superfluity of labor.
The rest of the day was occupied with this latter work, for which she received the customary fifteen sous.
Other men, who had no land and no fish-traps, and who else would have gone hungry, were glad to work for Pig-Jaw, caring for his goats, guarding them from wild dogs and tigers, and driving them to the feeding pastures in the mountains.
In the very heat of the day the mowing did not seem such hard work to him.