work out

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See also: workout




work out (third-person singular simple present works out, present participle working out, simple past and past participle worked out)

  1. (transitive, with object after out) To calculate.
    Can you work out 250 × 12 in your head for me?
    Can you work out how to get to the university by car?
  2. (transitive) To make sense of.
    Synonym: figure out
    I can't work these instructions out.
  3. (transitive) To smooth or perfect.
    This is a beta version; we're still working out the kinks.
  4. (intransitive) To conclude with the correct solution.
    These figures just don't work out.
  5. (intransitive) To succeed; to result in a satisfactory situation.
    Are you still seeing John? – No, it didn't work out.
  6. (intransitive) To exercise.
    John won't be here for a while because he is working out.
  7. (intransitive) To habitually exercise rigorously, especially by lifting weights, in order to increase strength or muscle mass or maintain fitness.
    Synonym: train
    Wow, you're looking good! Do you work out?
  8. (intransitive, US) To earn a wage working away from one's farm.
    • 1918, Willa Cather, My Ántonia, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Chapter 5, p. 38,[1]
      The two Russians made good farmhands, and in summer they worked out together.
    • 1939, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, New York: Viking, 1958, Chapter 13, p. 201,[2]
      [] with them good wages, maybe a fella can get hisself a little piece a land an’ work out for extra cash.
  9. (transitive, intransitive) Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see work,‎ out.
    Using some tweezers, he worked the bee sting out of his hand.
    He works out of a small office shared with three others.


  • 1971, Carol King, “So Far Away”, Tapestry, Ode Records
    If I could only work this life out my way / I’d rather spend it bein' close to you.
  • 2009, Reif Larsen, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, Penguin Books, p.41:
    "I have some questions I need to work out. Big questions."

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