at pains, be at

Idioms & Phrases

at pains, be at

Also, take pains. Make a special effort or take extra trouble to do something. For example, Bob was at pains to make a good first impression and wore his best suit, or Mary took pains to make sure her speech would interest the audience. [First half of 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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