Origin of the word:

n.: Old English weorcworc "something done, discrete act performed by someone, action (whether voluntary or required), proceeding, business; that which is made or manufactured, products of labor," also "physical labor, toil; skilled trade, craft, or occupation; opportunity of expending labor in some useful or remunerative way;" 

v.: a fusion of Old English wyrcan (past tense worhte, past participle geworht) "prepare, perform, do, make, construct, produce; strive after" (from Proto-Germanic *wurkjanan); and Old English wircan (Mercian) "to operate, function, set in motion," a secondary verb formed relatively late from Proto-Germanic noun *werkan (see work (n.)).

Sense of "perform physical labor" was in Old English, as was sense "ply one's trade" and "exert creative power, be a creator." Transitive sense "manipulate (physical substances) into a desired state or form" was in Old English. Meaning "have the expected or desired effect" is from late 14c. In Middle English also "perform sexually" (mid-13c.). Related: Worked (15c.); wroughtworking.



  1. activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
  2. a task or tasks to be undertaken.
  3. a thing or things done or made; the result of an action
  4. a place or premises in which industrial or manufacturing processes are carried out
  5. the operative part of a clock or other machine.


Other useful definitions by Creative, and Game-Changing Thinkers:

“Everything we do falls into 3 categories: Bad work, good work, great work” Milton Glaser (the guy who invented I Love NY logo

  • Bad work: “I hate my job”

Bad work is a waste of time, energy, and life. This is not something to be polite about. This is not something to be resigned to. Work that is pointless

Synonyms: bureaucracy, interminable meetings, an outdated process that waste everyone’s time, it squelches you instead of making you grow

  • Good work: “I am Busy”

Good work is the familiar, useful, productive work you do – and you likely do it well. You probably most of you time doing good work, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It blossoms from your training, your education, and the path you have travelled so far.

It brings comfort, nourishment, and success.

At one end, it’s engaging and interesting At the other end, it is more mundane, but you recognise the need of doing it. You always need good work in your life. At an organisational level, it is vital. Efficient, focused, profitable work results.

  • Great work: “I do Work that matters”

Great work is what we want to do more of.

Great Work that is meaningful to us, that has an impact and makes a difference. it inspires stretches and provokes. Great Work is the work that matters.

It is a source of both deep comfort and engagement – often you feel as if you are in the “FLOW Zone” where time stands still and your best effortlessly. It is meaningful to you – not only your core values, and beliefs, but also your aspirations and hope for the impact you want to have in the world.

It is also a place of uncertainty and discomfort because the work is often new and challenging. For organization, Great work drives strategic difference, innovation, and longevity. Often it’s the kind of inventive work that pushes the business forward, that leads to new products, more efficient systems, and increased profit.”

Your great work of today will become good work in 5 years! Or maybe less.


Also, look into:


Calling, Career, Job, Hobby, Vocation (Video by E. Gilbert)