workhouse

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See also: work house

English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

work +‎ house

Noun[edit]

workhouse (plural workhouses)

  1. (Britain, historical) An institution for the poor homeless, funded by the local parish where the able-bodied were required to work.
    Synonym: poorhouse
    • 1838, Charles Dickens, “Chapter 1”, in Oliver Twist:
      Among other public buildings in a certain town which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, it boasts of one which is common to most towns, great or small, to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born, [] the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter II, in The Squire’s Daughter, New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, published 1919, OCLC 491297620:
      "I don't want to spoil any comparison you are going to make," said Jim, "but I was at Winchester and New College." ¶ "That will do," said Mackenzie. "I was dragged up at the workhouse school till I was twelve. []"
  2. (US) A prison in which the sentence includes manual labour.
  3. (archaic) A factory; a place of manufacture.
    • 1895, Will H. Glascock, Stories of Columbia (page 190)
      He carefully guarded his secret, but it got out, and, when he had his invention almost completed, some men broke open his workhouse and carried it away. It was afterward returned, but his plan had been copied, and from the copy many machines were made.

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