Idioms and Expressions That Use "Work"

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The following idioms and expressions use the noun / verb 'work'. Each idiom or expression has a definition and two example sentences to help your understanding of these common idiomatic expressions with 'work'.

English Idioms and Expressions

All in a day's work

Definition: nothing special, part of the routine

  • Don't worry about it. It's all in a day's work.
  • Cooking is all in a day's work.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Definition: Idiom meaning that you need to have fun in order to be a happy, healthy person

  • Go home! Remember: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • I'm worried about him. He hasn't yet understood that all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.

Dirty work

Definition: Necessary, but uninteresting, or difficult work

  • He did the dirty work on that project.
  • Have you got around to doing the dirty work yet?

Get down to work

Definition: Stop relaxing, focus on important task

  • Hey, let's get down to work here!
  • Sorry, I've got to get off the phone and get down to work.

Get worked up over something

Definition: become angry or annoyed about something

  • He got all worked up over the last exam.
  • Don't get worked up over the garden. I'll take care of it tomorrow.

Make short work of something

Definition: do something quickly

  • I made short work of the assignment and moved on to the next job.
  • Give it to John. He'll make short work of it.

Work like a horse

Definition: work a lot, work very hard

  • Janet works like a horse!
  • Why don't you ask Tom. He works like a horse.

Work out for the best

Definition: eventually finish well

  • Don't worry about your problems. Everything will work out for the best.
  • The divorce worked out for the best for the whole family.

Work something off

Definition: lose weight

  • I'm going running to work dinner off.
  • She went to the gym to work off a few pounds.

Throw a monkey wrench in the works

Definition: cause a disturbance in something that seems clear and understandable

  • I hate to throw a monkey wrench in the works, but don't you think we should ask Andy to help.
  • Everything was set to go when Jack threw a monkey wrench in the works!