Work wonders and wonder-worker

Photo of author


Work wonders and wonder-worker are idioms that have been in use for at least 500 years. We will examine the meaning of the common sayings work wonders and wonder-worker, where they came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To work wonders means to do something miraculous, to achieve something that was very hard to accomplish, to accomplish something that seems as if it were done by magic. The expression work wonders goes back at least to 1500, and perhaps farther. The phrase originally referred to truly miraculous deeds that were accomplished by supernatural beings; the term work wonders soon came to mean to accomplish something as if by a miracle. The expression work wonders can be traced to the Old English word, wundorweorc, meaning miracle.

A wonder-worker is someone who accomplishes something very difficult, seemingly by performing a miracle or using magic. The expression wonder-worker is a hyphenated compound word. A compound word is a word derived from two or more separate words used together to create another word. Note that according to the Oxford English Dictionary, wonder-worker takes a hyphen.


However, enzyme cleaners can work wonders on a red-wine-stained carpet if they contain protease, which tackles protein-based stains like wine and blood. (Sun Sentinel)

 The name is somewhat misleading because, while it does work wonders when it comes to hydrating the cuticle (the skin around the nail bed), it’s also great for nails themselves. (Shape Magazine)

Mao’s words from the 1961 poem Reply to Comrade Kuo Mo-Jo “Today, a miasmal mist once more rising, we hail Sun Wu-kung, the wonder-worker” was also widely circulated on social media on Saturday, as many netizens become sentimental after the year 2020 was plagued heavily by COVID-19 that has made life more difficult. (Global Times)

Father Mollinger had been rumored to possess the healing powers of the “wonder-worker” St. Anthony, whose annual feast day fell on June 13.  (Smithsonian Magazine)