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[wurk-hous] /ˈwɜrkˌhaʊs/
noun, plural workhouses
[wurk-hou-ziz] /ˈwɜrkˌhaʊ zɪz/ (Show IPA)
a house of correction.
British. (formerly) a poorhouse in which paupers were given work.
Obsolete. a workshop.
Origin of workhouse
before 1100; Middle English werkhous, Old English weorchūs workshop. See work, house Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for workhouse
Historical Examples
  • "But she can't go to the workhouse," said Pollyooly in a deeply shocked tone.

    Happy Pollyooly Edgar Jepson
  • The other went on lecturing her, predicting they would end in the workhouse.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • Mr. Bumble had married Mrs. Corney, and was master of the workhouse.

  • If he did not take little Harry, the boy must go into the workhouse.

    The Girls of St. Olave's Mabel Mackintosh
  • Having pretty sharp eyes of our own, we both of us knew that a workhouse was no fit place for her.

    Hide and Seek Wilkie Collins
  • The workhouse was begun in 1787, but has been largely added to since then.

    Chelsea G. E. (Geraldine Edith) Mitton
  • I ventured to inquire into a practice I knew existed in the workhouse of selling food.

  • A little spendthrift who will bring us all to the workhouse!

    The Bill-Toppers Andre Castaigne
  • In the workhouse she will be given other clothes to work in, and will thus avoid the hardship of which Mrs. Higgs complains.

  • This stocking was all the luggage I had when I first entered the Leamington workhouse.

    Happy Days Alan Alexander Milne
British Dictionary definitions for workhouse


(formerly in England) an institution maintained at public expense where able-bodied paupers did unpaid work in return for food and accommodation
(in the US) a prison for petty offenders serving short sentences at manual labour
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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