Friday, October 21, 2011

Common English Idioms and Expressions With "Work"


IdiomMeaningExamples
All in a day's workA usual part of the job / routine; nothing special.Air raids and artillery barrages were all in a day's work for the soldiers.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boyYou need to have fun in order to be a happy, healthy person.Go out and have fun! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Close (good) enough for government workDone just well enough.There was little time left, but it was good enough for government work.
Dirty workNecessary, but uninteresting, or difficult work.
Dishonest or underhanded actions; treachery.
Everybody knows about all the dirty work they do in that project.
Get down to work / businessTo stop relaxing; start to seriously conduct business.We're running behind schedule. Now, stop joking and let's get down to work!
Get worked up (over something)To become angry / annoyed / agitated about something.He seemed to get worked up over the new policy.
Make short /fast / light work of somethingTo finish something quicklyHe made short work of his breakfast so that he would not be late for work.
Make hard work of (doing) somethingTo work in a way which makes it more difficult than it should beThe repair took a long time because they made hard work of it.
Work against the clockTo work fast because there is a limited period of time to do somethingWe had to work against the clock since the deadline was very close.
Work away (at something)To continue to work industriously at somethingThey kept working away despite of the rain.
Work like a horse/a slave/a beaver/a muleTo work very hardHe was exhausted after having to work like a horse all day.
Work out for the bestTo finish wellDon't worry. Things will work out for the best.
Work someone or something overTo give someone or something a thorough examination.The doctor worked my father over but couldn't find anything wrong.
Throw a monkey wrench in the worksTo cause a disturbance in something that seems clear and understandableLet's talk to him about our plan. I'm sure he won't throw a monkey wrench in the works.
Work wonders (with someone or something)To be very helpful with someone or somethingThe new coach has worked wonders with the team. They have won five matches fo far.


  1. I'm afraid we have to .... The report is due the day after tomorrow.
    1. work out for the best
    2. work it over
    3. work against the clock
    4. make hard work of it
  2. Being a single parent, she has to ... to support her children.
    1. work her over
    2. get worked up
    3. work out for the best
    4. work like a horse
  3. We only have 10 minutes. You'd better ... of it.
    1. make fast work
    2. make hard work
    3. work away
    4. work out
  4. Dealing with customers' complaints is ... for her. It's part of her job.
    1. a work of art
    2. all in a day's work
    3. a work out
    4. dirty work
  5. I think you should go out and have some fun. ....
    1. Don't work against the clock.
    2. Make hard work of it.
    3. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
    4. Throw a monkey wrench in the works.
  6. The medicine has ... with him. He is recovering.
    1. worked over
    2. worked wonders
    3. worked up
    4. work away
  7. Despite of my carelessness, I was lucky that everything ....
    1. worked against the clock
    2. worked me over
    3. worked out for the best
    4. worked away
  8. The room redecoration finished two days before the event. Although the time was short, it was ....
    1. working up
    2. a work-away
    3. close enough for government work
    4. a work-over

Reference: The Free Dictionary

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