make-work "busy-work, activity of no value," 1913 (adj.); 1937 (n.), Amer.Eng., from the verbal expression to make work (see MAKE (Cf. make) (v.) + WORK (Cf. work) (n.)).
A big fire devoured a street; "It will make work," I heard my father say; a ship was lost at sea laden with silk, and leather, and cloth; "It will make work," said my father; a reservoir broke jail, and swept the heart of the town away. "It will make work," my mother said; so all human calamities were softened blessings to me; they made "work," and work made wages, and wages made bread and potatoes, and clothes for me. ["The Radical Review," Chicago, Sept. 15, 1883]

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • make-work — ˈmake work noun [uncountable] work that is not important but is given to people to keep them busy: • They want to move from their make work jobs into more challenging ones. * * * make work UK US noun [U] US ► jobs that are given to people,… …   Financial and business terms

  • make-work — n. Active work of litle value, such as assignments given by teachers to students to keep them busy while the teacher performs other tasks, or chores performed to while away time; also called {busywork}. Syn: busywork. [WordNet 1.5 +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • make-work — n [U] AmE work that is not important but is given to people to keep them busy …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • make-work — make ,work noun uncount work that is given to someone so that they have something to do …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • make-work — make′ work n. work created to keep a person busy • Etymology: 1935–40 …   From formal English to slang

  • make-work — ☆ make work [māk′wʉrk΄ ] adj., n. (designating) a job, project, or assignment that serves no useful purpose other than to give an otherwise idle or unemployed person something to do …   English World dictionary

  • make-work — /mayk werrk /, n. work, usually of little importance, created to keep a person from being idle or unemployed. [1935 40, Amer.; n. use of v. phrase make work] * * * …   Universalium

  • make-work — noun An activity or task assigned or undertaken for the sake of activity or busy ness, rather than because of a particular need. The assignment was simply make work to keep them busy on a rainy day …   Wiktionary

  • make-work — noun active work of little value (Freq. 1) while he was waiting he filled the days with busywork • Syn: ↑busywork • Hypernyms: ↑work …   Useful english dictionary

  • make ... work — to put and keep smth in satisfactory working order or condition, to make smth operative …   Idioms and examples

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