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Monday, September 5, 2016

Working Words

Hello, Labor Day....Goodbye Summer.  

Labor Day is the first Monday in September, and was created by the labor movement in the 1800's.  It is dedicated to the social and economic accomplishments of the American worker.  It is an annual tribute to us all, who contribute to our country's prosperity and strength. 


This is what some of us may be thinking today, as we gather outdoors to barbecue or picnic, or perhaps to watch a parade. 

This annual day of rest was the result of the average American working 12 hours a day, for seven days a week during the peak of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800's.  Very young children were employed in mills and mines across the country, even though some protective restrictions were in place.  The working conditions were quite dismal, as they faced poor air quality, unsanitary and very hazardous working conditions.  This eventually led to strikes, protests and even rioting, until Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday.  

Image credit:  garneteducation

This morning, I began thinking about the many terms we use to describe "putting in a day's work" and/or related words that we use at work, or about work.  Imagine, being from another country and trying to make sense of our American language!  

Image credit: theodysseyonline
We probably take for granted some of our common expressions, and when one considers our phraseology, it can be quite humorous, and there is usually a story behind every idiom.  We use these terms daily, in carrying out our work duties.

Image credit; alumnus.tennessee.edu

Labor of love - This term is often used to describe work that is done out of affection, and not necessarily to receive pay or reward.  It may also mean that one may perform work for their own satisfaction because that, in itself, is the reward. 

"Labor under the illusion [or delusion] of/that" - to work or operate under the unwavering belief in an outcome that is unrealistic.

"The Fruit of Our Labor" - the result of [hard] work. 

"In Labor" - a woman who is experiencing the suffering and pains of giving birth. 

"Labor Under The Assumption" - to work with the belief that the results would be meaningful or profitable... but, many of you may be familiar with the adage:  "To assume is to make an ass out of u and me."


Here is an exhausting, and sometimes funny, list of phrases that we American's use the word "work", (or other idioms) pertaining to work, in our daily lives.  Can you add to this list?

A piece of work
A woman's work is never done
Above the call of duty
All hands on deck
All in a day's work
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

A nasty piece of work
All in a day's work
Back to work
Balance the books
Beehive of activity
[the] Big Cheese
Blank check
Blood on the carpet
Break your back
Bring home the bacon
Build up a head of steam
Business as usual
Business before pleasure
Busy work
Called on the carpet
Can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

Carve out a niche
Cash cow
Chief cook and bottle washer
Clinch a deal
Close enough for government work
Cog in the machine
[Make] cold calls
Corner the market
Crack the whip
Creative accounting
Cut and dried
Cutting edge
Daily grind
Dead end job
Dead weight
Detective work
Devil's work
Do your homework
Do dirty work
Dog eat dog
Done deal
Don't mix business with pleasure
Down the drain
Drastic times call for drastic measures

Drive into the ground
Dummy run
Eager beaver
Elbow grease
Farm it out
Finger in the pie
Foot in the door
Funny business
Get down to brass tacks
Get down to business
Get down to work
Get it off the ground
Get the show on the road
Get the upper hand
Get your hands dirty
Give it your best shot
Give me the works
Give you a run for the money
Go belly up
Go for a song
Go out of business
Go to work
Golden opportunity
Good work!
Grease your palm
Grunt work
Gum up the works
Hard work

Hard work never killed anyone
Have your work cut out for you
Hit the ground running
Hold the fort
Household name
Idle hands to do dirty work
In the black
In the red
In the works
It is not work that kills, but the worry
It works for me!
I've got work to do
Jack/Jill of all trades
Jump on the band wagon
Just another day
Keep up the good work
Keep your head above water

Knock off work
Knuckle down
Learn the ropes
Left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
Leg work
Lick of work
Like clockwork
[A] little work never hurt anyone
Make fast work of 
Make hay while the sun shines
Make light work of
Make quick work of
Make short work of
Many hands make light work
Monkey business
Movers and shakers
Muster in
Nice work if you can get it!

Nose to the grindstone 
Not a stroke of work
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Nuts and bolts
One hand washes the other
Ostrich strategy
Out of work
Overplay your hand
Pass the buck
Perform miracles
Pick up steam
Pink slip
Piece of the action
Piece of work
Pile the work on
Pull your own weight
Put a wrench into the works

Put in a hard day at work
Put to work
Put your shoulder to the wheel
Red Tape
Roll up your sleeves
Seal of approval
Sell ice to an Eskimo
Separate the boys from the men
Shape up, or ship out
Shoot the works
Shotgun approach
Sign on the dotted line
Signed, sealed and delivered

Skeleton crew
Silent partner
Slice of the pie
Start the ball rolling
Strictly business
Sweat blood
Sweat of your brow
Take a nosedive
Talk shop
Too many chiefs, and not enough Indians
Too many irons in the fire
Thankless work
That works for me!
The devil finds work for idle hands
The works
Things will work out
Time works wonders
Trade secret

Tricks of the trade
Up and running
Walking papers
Wear my fingers to the bone
Wearing too many hats
Wheeling and dealing
Whole works
Win-win situation
Work your butt/buns/arse/ass/tail/socks off

Work your magic
Work your way through it
Work a treat
Work against the clock
Work around to it
Work at
Work both sides of the street
Works both ways
[have your] Work cut out for you
Worked my fingers to the bone
Work for peanuts
Work hand in glove 
Work itself out
Work like a beaver
Work like a charm
Work like a dog
Worked like magic
Work your magic
Work nights
Work of art
Work off
Work on
Work your fingers to the bone
Work yourself into a lather

Work out
Work out for the best
Work out of
Work over
Work some fat off
Work someone over
Work the crowd
Work out the problem
Work the room
Work things out
Work things through
Work through channels
Work till you drop
Work together
Work under the table
Work 'til you drop
Work up a sweat
Work up a thirst
Work up to it
Work wonders

Worked up
Works for me
Write if you get work
Write your John Hancock

*Mouse illustrations, showing mice hard at work, are fine art examples, by Stuart Dunkel

Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day!