workhouse ( workhouses plural ) In Britain, in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, a workhouse was a place where very poor people could live and do unpleasant jobs in return for food. People use the workhouse to refer to these places in general. n-count
...a struggling Shropshire family which lived in fear of the workhouse.
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"Collins Cobuild English Dictionary for Advanced Learners 4th edition published in 2003 © HarperCollins Publishers 1987, 1995, 2001, 2003 and Collins A-Z Thesaurus 1st edition first published in 1995 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995"