Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The use of physical or mental energy to do something; exertion.
  • noun A difficult exertion of strength or will.
  • noun A usually earnest attempt.
  • noun Something done or produced through exertion; an achievement.
  • noun Force applied against inertia.
  • noun The force needed by a machine to accomplish work on a load.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Voluntary exertion; a putting forth of the will, consciously directed toward the performance of any action, external or internal, and usually prepared by a psychological act of “gathering the strength” or coördination of the powers.
  • noun The result of exertion; something done by voluntary exertion; specifically, a literary, oratorical, or artistic work.
  • noun In mech., a force upon a body due to a definite cause.
  • To strengthen; reinforce.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An exertion of strength or power, whether physical or mental, in performing an act or aiming at an object; more or less strenuous endeavor; struggle directed to the accomplishment of an object.
  • noun (Mech.) A force acting on a body in the direction of its motion.
  • transitive verb obsolete To stimulate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The work involved in performing an activity; exertion.
  • noun An endeavour.
  • verb uncommon To make an effort.
  • verb obsolete To stimulate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something
  • noun use of physical or mental energy; hard work
  • noun a notable achievement
  • noun a series of actions advancing a principle or tending toward a particular end

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French esfort, from esforcier, to force, exert, from Medieval Latin exfortiāre : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin fortis, strong; see bhergh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French effort, from Old French esfort, deverbal noun from esforcier ("to force, exert"), from Vulgar Latin *exfortiare, from Latin ex + fortis ("strong")

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