Denotation vs. Connotation


[waw-ter-wurks, wot-er-] /ˈwɔ tərˌwɜrks, ˈwɒt ər-/
noun, plural waterworks.
(used with a singular or plural verb) a complete system of reservoirs, pipelines, conduits, etc., by which water is collected, purified, stored, and pumped to urban users.
(used with a singular verb) a pumping station or a purifying station of such a system.
(usually used with a plural verb). Sometimes, waterwork. a spectacular display of water, mechanically produced, as for a pageant.
(used with a singular or plural verb) Slang. tears, or the source of tears:
to turn on the waterworks.
Slang. the kidneys.
Origin of waterworks
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English; see water, works Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for waterworks
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The area supplied by Manchester waterworks was about 85 square miles, inhabited by a million people.

  • The house is between the waterworks and the steam-tram station.

    Roden's Corner Henry Seton Merriman
  • The morning after the election Hendricks began a lawsuit as a taxpayer and citizen to make the waterworks company move its plant.

    A Certain Rich Man William Allen White
  • The smoke ascending from the waterworks was no greyer than the day.

    Mountain Blood Joseph Hergesheimer
  • The few tents fell, and men in brown uniforms moved hither and thither near the waterworks building.

    With the Boer Forces Howard C. Hillegas
  • The head of the patrol is now at the bridge, XVI (un') northwest of the waterworks.

  • Both hotels, the waterworks, and the gas works belonged to him, and there was complaint of his extortions.

British Dictionary definitions for waterworks


(functioning as sing) an establishment for storing, purifying, and distributing water for community supply
(functioning as pl) a display of water in movement, as in fountains
(functioning as pl) (Brit, informal, euphemistic) the urinary system, esp with reference to its normal functioning: he has trouble with his waterworks
(functioning as pl) (informal) crying; tears
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for waterworks

watering hole

n phr,n

A bar; a saloon; a drinking place: That place is the waterhole of choice for aspiring actors/ a posh watering hole on Madison Avenue/ gathering for the school's alums and their friends at selected watering spots (1960s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with waterworks


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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