exertion of physical or mental power: It will take great effort to achieve victory.
an earnest or strenuous attempt: an effort to keep to the schedule.
something done by exertion or hard work: I thought it would be easy, but it was an effort.
an achievement, as in literature or art: The painting is one of his finest efforts.
the amount of exertion expended for a specified purpose: the war effort.
Chiefly British.
an organized community drive or achievement.
a fund-raising drive.
Mechanics. the force or energy that is applied to a machine for the accomplishment of useful work.

1480–90; < Middle French; Old French esfort, esforz, derivative of esforcier to force (es- ex-1 + forcier to force)

countereffort, noun
overeffort, noun
preeffort, noun

1. struggle, striving. Effort, application, endeavor, exertion imply actions directed or force expended toward a definite end. Effort is an expenditure of energy to accomplish some objective: He made an effort to control himself. Application is continuous effort plus careful attention: constant application to duties. Endeavor means a continued and sustained series of efforts to achieve some, often worthy and difficult, end: a constant endeavor to be useful. Exertion is the vigorous and often strenuous expenditure of energy, frequently without an end: out of breath from exertion.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
effort (ˈɛfət)
1.  physical or mental exertion, usually considerable when unqualified: the rock was moved with effort
2.  a determined attempt: our effort to save him failed
3.  achievement; creation: a great literary effort
4.  physics an applied force acting against inertia
[C15: from Old French esfort, from esforcier to force, ultimately from Latin fortis strong; see force1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 15c., from M.Fr. effort, noun of action from O.Fr. esforz, from esforcier "force out, exert oneself," from V.L. *exfortiare "to show strength," from L. ex- "out" + fortis "strong."
"Effort is only effort when it begins to hurt." [Ortega y Gasset, 1949]
Related: Efforts.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
effort   (ěf'ərt)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. Force applied against inertia.

  2. The force needed by a machine in order to accomplish work on a load. Compare load.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see all out (effort); last-ditch effort.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Training barracks and battlefields replaced slums and tent cities as the film
  industry embraced the war effort.
The goal of this effort has been to infuse the national geography .
We appreciate the effort that went into all of the applications.
There is no effort to instill sincerity and intensity of conviction.
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