work to (something)
1. To follow a particular schedule, plan, or procedure while working. It's important that we all work to the same guidelines, or else it won't all fit together right at the end. I work to a strict time schedule when I work from home.
2. To listen to a particular band or type of music while working. I've been working to heavy metal lately to keep me motivated throughout the day. I like to work to Bruce Springsteen when I'm painting.
3. To expend time, effort, and energy to cause something to reach a particular state. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "work" and "to." We're trying to work the prototype to a playable demo before the big video game expo next month. The bill doesn't have a chance as it is currently, but I think I can work it to something that might pass through both houses of congress.
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 "to." I was worked to a panic when my kids didn't answer my phone calls. The organizer whipped the mob to a violent frenzy, leading to a riot breaking out along Main Street.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
work someone or something to someone or something
to struggle to manipulate someone or something to someone or something. The quarterback worked the ball to the fullback so that the opposition didn't know what was going on. The rescuers worked the trapped child to the top of the tunnel.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. To follow some plan or schedule: They worked to a timetable.
2. To cause something or someone to reach some level through repeated, continuous, or applied effort: The rock singer worked the audience to a frenzy.
3. To reach some level through repeated, continuous, or applied effort: The baseball team worked to a three-run lead.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.