elbow grease

noun
strenuous physical exertion: a job requiring elbow grease.

Origin:
1630–40

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
elbow grease
 
n
facetious vigorous physical labour, esp hard rubbing

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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

elbow grease definition


Strenuous physical effort: “If you're going to get this job done, you'll need to apply a little elbow grease.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang Dictionary

elbow-grease definition


  1. n.
    effort. : All this job needs is a little more elbow-grease.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

elbow grease

Strenuous physical effort, as in You'll have to use some elbow grease to get the house painted in time. This term alludes to vigorous use of one's arm in cleaning, polishing, or the like. It soon was extended to any kind of hard work, and Anthony Trollope used it still more figuratively (Thackeray, 1874): "Forethought is the elbow-grease which a novelist ... requires." [First half of 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Use baking soda and elbow grease instead of chemical bathroom cleaners to clean
  your bathtub.
Baking soda does a marvelous job of oven cleaning and refrigerator cleaning
  with a bit of elbow grease.
Elbow grease is also a good answer for cutting boards and surfaces.
If all else fails, you can power devices on elbow grease.
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