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.
    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 awhile 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. (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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