I know several English words with "work" word as a second part: network, clockwork. Maybe someone can give more examples. They have some meanings in common - they are close to "machinery" or "system", but apart from that they seem very different. What were the historical reasons for producing such words?


1 Answer 1


The core sense of work is 'anything that's done'. It's not surprising, therefore, that it has many meanings, including those in the words you mention. It's first recorded in the tenth century, and its origins go back much further. It can combine with many other words other in front of or after it. They are too numerous to mention here.

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    Guessing from my own mother tongue, the "work" in network seems to describe something, someone has put considerable effort into. Imagine how much effort is needed to build a clock, all the little pieces that need to be put into place and so on.
    – Raku
    Dec 16, 2011 at 11:50
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    @Raku: The creation of a network may well have required a great deal of effort, but the 'work' element describes the product rather than the process. However, in a word such as 'housework' labour is very much of the essence. Dec 16, 2011 at 11:57

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