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See also: water works and water-works



Bethamangala water works (sense 2) in Bethamangala, Karnataka, India.

Etymology 1[edit]

From water +‎ works (machine, mechanism; factory or factories).[1]


waterworks pl (plural only)

  1. The water supply system of a district, town, city, or other place, including reservoirs, pipes, and pumps.
  2. (treated as singular) Any single facility, such as a filtration plant or pumping station, within such a system.
    She is employed by a waterworks at the outskirts of the city.
  3. (figuratively)
    1. (informal) Often in the form turn on the waterworks: crying or tears, especially in a way that is considered manipulative or over-emotional.
      She turned on the waterworks when we told her the old man was dead, but she was asking questions about the will soon enough.
    2. (informal) Rain.
    3. (Britain, euphemistic) The genitourinary system.
      Synonym: plumbing (euphemistic, informal)
  4. (historical, treated as singular) A hydraulic apparatus by which a supply of water is furnished for ornamental purposes; also, an ornamental fountain or waterfall.
  5. (construction, archaic) Engineering works relating to the conveyance and flow of fluids (principally water), such as the collection and distribution of water, drainage, irrigation, etc.
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From waterwork +‎ -s.



  1. plural of waterwork


  1. ^ Compare “waterwork, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2015; “waterwork, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present; “waterworks, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further reading[edit]