Entries linking to roadwork
Middle English rode, from Old English rad "riding expedition, journey, hostile incursion," from Proto-Germanic *raido (source also of Old Frisian red "ride," Old Saxon reda, Middle Dutch rede, Old High German reita "foray, raid"), from PIE *reidh- "to ride" (see ride (v.)). Also related to raid (n.).
In Middle English it was still, "a riding, a journey on horseback; a mounted raid;" the sense of "an open passage or way for traveling between two places" is recorded from 1590s, and the older senses now are obsolete. "The late appearance of this sense makes its development from sense 1 somewhat obscure," according to OED, which however finds similar evolutions in Flemish and Frisian words. The modern spelling was established 18c.
The meaning "narrow stretch of sheltered water near shore where ships can lie at anchor" is from early 14c. (as in Virginia's Hampton Roads). In late 19c. U.S. use it is often short for railroad.
On the road "traveling" is from 1640s. Road test (n.) of a vehicle's performance is by 1906; as a verb from 1937. Road hog "one who is objectionable on the road" [OED] is attested from 1886; road rage is by 1988. Road map is from 1786; road trip is by 1950, originally of baseball teams. Old English had radwerig "weary of traveling."
Old English weorc, worc "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;" also "military fortification." This is from Proto-Germanic *werka- "work" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch werk, Old Norse verk, Middle Dutch warc, Old High German werah, German Werk, Gothic gawaurki), from PIE *werg-o-, a suffixed form of the root *werg- "to do."
The meaning "physical effort, exertion" is from c. 1200; that of "scholarly labor" or its productions is from c. 1200; the meaning "artistic labor" or its productions is from c. 1200. The sense of "labor as a measurable commodity" is from c. 1300. The meaning "embroidery, stitchery, needlepoint" is from late 14c.
Work of art attested by 1774 as "artistic creation," earlier (1728) "artifice, production of humans (as opposed to nature)." Work ethic recorded from 1959. To be out of work "unemployed" is from 1590s. To make clean work of is from c. 1300; to make short work of is from 1640s.
Proverbial expression many hands make light work is from c. 1300. To have (one's) work cut out for one is from 1610s; to have it prepared and prescribed, hence, to have all one can handle. Work in progress is from 1930 in a general sense, earlier as a specific term in accountancy and parliamentary procedure.
Work is less boring than amusing oneself. [Baudelaire, "Mon Coeur mis a nu," 1862]
updated on July 28, 2013