Idioms title

The Idiom Attic - a collection of hundreds of English idioms, each one explained.

"effort" idioms...

See also, the Phrase Thesaurus list of phrases that contain the word effort

and, a list of phrases that relate in some way the word effort

" A big ask "
Meaning:
A favour which is a lot to ask of someone.
Example:
Tod had only just got home from his overnight flight when his boss told him to get back to the airport and fly to Sydney. That was a big ask.
Where did it originate?:
Australia.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   excess   australian_origin  
" A sledgehammer to crack a nut "
Meaning:
The use of excessive resources to overcome a small problem.
Example:
Using the air ambulance to get granny to hospital was a sledgehammer to crack a nut. She could walk perfectly well and we only live 200 yards away.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
Widely used.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   tool   america   food  
" A stitch in time saves nine "
Meaning:
A small effort made at the right time might save a calamity later on.
Example:
Fixing that frayed rope was a real stitch in time. It would probably have snapped when the wind got up later if we hadn’t.
Where did it originate?:
Britain. A very old proverb.
Where is it used?:
In use worldwide, but less commonly than before and mainly by the older generation.
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More idioms about:   number   time   adage  
" Actions speak louder than words "
Meaning:
Actions show one’s character more than what you say.
Example:
She spoke up for the immigrants but he gave them a bed in his house - actions speak louder than words.
Where did it originate?:
Britain - 17th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   language   adage  
" Bend over backwards "
Meaning:
Make extravagant efforts to avoid bias.
Example:
Everyone assumed the commentators would prefer their own team. They had to bend over backwards to show that they were being fair.
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" Bring your A game "
Meaning:
Perform to the best of your ability.
Example:
The cup game tomorrow is the biggest in the club's history. Everyone in the team needs to bring his A game.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 20th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   sport   america  
" Burn the midnight oil "
Meaning:
To work late into the night.
Example:
Sorry, I can't come to the pub. This report's due at 9am and I'll need to burn the midnight oil if I am going to get it finished.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 17th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   work  
" Cream crackered "
Meaning:
Cockney rhyming slang for knackered. - note, when this term was coined, cream crackers were a popular snack in the UK.
Example:
That's an hour on the exercise bike. I can't do any more - I'm crackered.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
Mostly Britain.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   cockney_rhyming_slang   food  
" Crunch time "
Meaning:
The period of time just before a project has to be completed.
Example:
The exam is tomorrow and I need to pass - it's crunch time for me.
Where did it originate?:
Sir Winston Churchill coined and often used the expression 'it comes to the crunch' and this is the source of the 'crunch time' variant.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   time  
" Cut corners "
Meaning:
Doing things in a slipshod way, to avoid expense or effort.
Example:
We should be using best butter for this recipe, but he's cutting corners and using oil.
Where did it originate?:
Rudyard Kipling, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
" Elbow grease "
Meaning:
Energetic labour, especially in the polishing of household items.
Example:
That silver will never get a shine like that - put some elbow grease into it.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, late 17th century.
Where is it used?:
Britain, mostly by the older generation.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   the_human_body  
" Get a gold star "
Meaning:
Earn a merit point for doing well.
Example:
Well done Juliet. 100% in your maths test = you are due a gold star.
Where did it originate?:
USA, late 19th century. First found in the US magazine The Ladies' Home Journal.
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More idioms about:   colour   america  
" Go the extra mile "
Meaning:
Going beyond what is usually required. Make an extra effort.
Example:
He needed have picked me up from the airport. I'm grateful that he went the extra mile.
Where did it originate?:
USA, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   travel   america  
" Hit the books "
Meaning:
To study, especially for a test or exam.
Example:
I've done no work for the end of terms exams. I need to hit the books bigtime.
Where did it originate?:
USA
Where is it used?:
Mostly USA.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   america  
" Keep your chin up "
Meaning:
Remain positive in a tough situation.
Example:
Sorry to hear that you were made redundant on the day your buried your mother. Keep your chin up mate.
Where did it originate?:
USA, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Although derived in the USA this idiom is more commonly heard now in Britain.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   emotion   the_human_body   proverbial   america  
" No rush "
Meaning:
Said to someone to indicate that you aren't in a hurry for them to complete their task.
Example:
You can finish your tea before you start on my photocopying. I've got to wait here for Jim anyway, so there's no rush.
Where is it used?:
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" On a hiding to nothing "
Meaning:
Faced with a hopeless situation, even after making one's best efforts.
Example:
We knew that our trip to Australia was a hiding to nothing. We had to play with jet lag and they had a much stronger team anyway.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, early 1900s.
Where is it used?:
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" Run out of steam "
Meaning:
Completely out of energy.
Example:
I was going strong in the marathon until I hit the wall at the twenty mile mark. Then I was right out of steam.
Where is it used?:
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" Scrape together "
Meaning:
To manage, with difficulty, enough of what is needed - especially money.
Example:
Between three three of us we managed to scrape together £5 for a taxi home.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   money  
" Scrub up "
Meaning:
Make an effort to present oneself well dressed and smartly turned out.
Example:
I'd only ever seen Jim in jeans before. Now he's in a suit and had a haircut I think he scrubs up really well.
Where did it originate?:
Derived as an allusion to the intensive scrubbing that surgeons undertake to be especially clean for operations.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
" Step up to the mark "
Meaning:
Mark yourself ready to take responsibility.
Example:
If you really want to top job you need to step up to the mark and show the board what you are worth.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 18th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:

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