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The act or an instance of exerting, especially a strenuous effort.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ɪgˈzɜr ʃən)

1. vigorous action or effort.
2. an effort: a great exertion to help others.
3. exercise, as of power or faculties.
4. an instance of this.
syn: See effort.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



(See also OVERWORK.)

blood, sweat, and tears Adversity, difficulty; suffering, affliction; strenuous, arduous labor. The now common expression is a truncated version of that used by Winston Churchill in addressing the House of Commons shortly after his election as Prime Minister.

I say to the House, as I said to the Ministers who have joined this Government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. (May 13, 1940)

The phrase gained additional currency when it was adopted as the name of a music group popular in the late 1960s.

buckle down To adopt a no-nonsense attitude of determination and effort; to set aside frivolous concerns or distractions and concentrate on the task at hand. Buckle down to dates from 1865, and appears to be but a variation on the earlier buckle to or buckle one-self to, both of which probably have their antecedents in the act of buckling on armor to prepare for battle.

cleanse the Augean stables See REFORMATION.

elbow grease Strenuous physical effort or exertion; hard physical work or manual labor; vigorous and energetic rubbing, muscle. This self-evident expression dates from at least 1672. A hint of its original meaning is provided by the definition found in A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew (1700): “a derisory term for sweat.”

get one’s teeth into To work with vigor and determination; to come to grips with a task or problem; also, sink one’s teeth into. This expression may be derived from the greater effort required to chew food than to sip it. Similarly, one who gets his teeth into something of substance is directing a great deal of physical or mental effort into completing the task.

in there pitching Putting forth one’s best effort; working energetically and diligently; directing one’s energy and talent toward a specific goal. Current since the early 1900s, this colloquial Americanism derives from the game of baseball, specifically the role of the pitcher.

Everybody on the system is in there pitching, trying to save a locomotive or piece of locomotive. (Saturday Evening Post, June 26, 1943)

put one’s shoulder to the wheel To strive, to exert one-self, to make a determined effort, to work at vigorously. The reference is to the teamster of yesteryear who literally put his shoulder to the wheel of his wagon when it got stuck in a rut or in mud in order to help his horses pull it out.

work up to the collar To labor diligently; to perform strenuous tasks energetically. A beast of burden is not considered to be working at its utmost capacity unless its collar is straining against its neck. This expression sees little use today.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.exertion - use of physical or mental energyexertion - use of physical or mental energy; hard work; "he got an A for effort"; "they managed only with great exertion"
toil, labor, labour - productive work (especially physical work done for wages); "his labor did not require a great deal of skill"
struggle - strenuous effort; "the struggle to get through the crowd exhausted her"
difficulty, trouble - an effort that is inconvenient; "I went to a lot of trouble"; "he won without any trouble"; "had difficulty walking"; "finished the test only with great difficulty"
least effort, least resistance - the least effortful way to do something
straining, strain - an intense or violent exertion
exercise, exercising, physical exercise, physical exertion, workout - the activity of exerting your muscles in various ways to keep fit; "the doctor recommended regular exercise"; "he did some exercising"; "the physical exertion required by his work kept him fit"
pull - a sustained effort; "it was a long pull but we made it"
diligence, application - a diligent effort; "it is a job requiring serious application"
overkill - any effort that seems to go farther than would be necessary to achieve its goal
supererogation - an effort above and beyond the call of duty
overexertion - excessive exertion; so much exertion that discomfort or injury results
detrition, friction, rubbing - effort expended in moving one object over another with pressure
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. effort, action, exercise, struggle, industry, labour, trial, pains, stretch, strain, endeavour, toil, travail (literary), elbow grease (facetious) panting from the exertion of climbing the stairs
2. use, exercise, application, employment, bringing to bear, utilization the exertion of legislative power
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


2. The use of energy to do something:
Informal: elbow grease.
3. Energetic physical action:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
بَذْل جُهْد، إجْهادجُهْد، مَجْهود
áreynsla; viîleitnibeiting, neyting


[ɪgˈzɜːʃən] Nesfuerzo m; (= overdoing things) → esfuerzo m excesivo, trabajo m excesivo
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


n (= physical effort) → effort m exertions
npl (= efforts) → efforts mpl
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= effort)Anstrengung f; by one’s own exertionsdurch eigene Anstrengungen
(of force, strength)Anwendung f, → Einsatz m; (of authority)Aufgebot nt, → Einsatz m; (of influence, power, control)Ausübung f; the exertion of force/pressure on somethingdie Ausübung von Kraft/Druck auf etw (acc); rugby requires strenuous physical exertionRugby fordert unermüdlichen körperlichen Einsatz; after the day’s exertionsnach des Tages Mühen
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ɪgˈzɜːʃn] nsforzo
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(igˈzəːt) verb
1. to bring forcefully into use or action. He likes to exert his authority.
2. to force (oneself) to make an effort. Please exert yourselves.
exˈertion (-ʃən) noun
1. the act of bringing forcefully into use. the exertion of one's influence.
2. (an) effort. They failed in spite of their exertions.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


n esfuerzo; physical — esfuerzo físico
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
But, ungrateful as the task was, we set about it with exemplary patience, and after a snail-like progress of an hour or more, had scaled perhaps one half of the distance, when the fever which had left me for a while returned with such violence, and accompanied by so raging a thirst, that it required all the entreaties of Toby to prevent me from losing all the fruits of my late exertion, by precipitating myself madly down the cliffs we had just climbed, in quest of the water which flowed so temptingly at their base.
Thereupon he began to pray to Hercules, without other exertion.
There was the engine-room, but the exertion of carrying them to the furnace was not worth while.
But the overflowing misery I now felt, and the excess of agitation that I endured rendered me incapable of any exertion. I threw down the oar, and leaning my head upon my hands, gave way to every gloomy idea that arose.
"If servitude is a high honour," the Gentleman said, "it would be indecent for me to seek it; and if obtained by my own exertion it would be no honour."
Pickwick, though able to sustain a very considerable amount of exertion and fatigue, was not proof against such a combination of attacks as he had undergone on the memorable night, recorded in the last chapter.
Patient of toil, not to be disheartened by impediments and disappointments, fertile in expedients, and versed in every mode of humoring and conquering the wayward current, they would ply every exertion, sometimes in the boat, sometimes on shore, sometimes in the water, however cold; always alert, always in good humor; and, should they at any time flag or grow weary, one of their popular songs, chanted by a veteran oarsman, and responded to in chorus, acted as a never- failing restorative.
Huntingdon is making every exertion to discover the place of my retreat.
Two of the inferior limbs should be on the principle of the lever; wheels, perhaps, as they are now formed; though I have not yet determined whether the improvement might be better applied to the anterior or posterior members, inasmuch as I am yet to learn whether dragging or shoving requires the greatest muscular exertion. A natural exudation of the animal might assist in overcoming the friction, and a powerful momentum be obtained.
For the girls she seemed anxious only to render them as superficially attractive and showily accomplished as they could possibly be made, without present trouble or discomfort to themselves; and I was to act accordingly--to study and strive to amuse and oblige, instruct, refine, and polish, with the least possible exertion on their part, and no exercise of authority on mine.
His chief reward for the painful exertion of disclosing past sorrows and present humiliations, was given in the pitying eye with which Marianne sometimes observed him, and the gentleness of her voice whenever (though it did not often happen) she was obliged, or could oblige herself to speak to him.
Train her in the art of dramatic disguise; provide her with appropriate dresses for different characters; develop her accomplishments in singing and playing; give her plenty of smart talk addressed to the audience; advertise her as a Young Lady at Home; astonish the public by a dramatic entertainment which depends from first to last on that young lady's own sole exertions; commit the entire management of the t hing to my care -- and what follows as a necessary con sequence?