verb (used with object)
to put forth or into use, as power; exercise, as ability or influence; put into vigorous action: to exert every effort.
to put (oneself) into strenuous, vigorous action or effort.

1650–60; < Latin ex(s)ertus, past participle of exserere to thrust out, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + ser(ere) to bind together + -tus past participle suffix

exertive, adjective
nonexertive, adjective
superexert, verb (used with object)
unexerted, adjective
well-exerted, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
exert (ɪɡˈzɜːt)
1.  to use (influence, authority, etc) forcefully or effectively
2.  to apply (oneself) diligently; make a strenuous effort
[C17 (in the sense: push forth, emit): from Latin exserere to thrust out, from ex-1 + serere to bind together, entwine]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1640s, from L. exertus, pp. of exerere "thrust out, put forth," from ex- "out" + serere "attach, join" (see series). Related: Exerted; exerting. Exertion in the sense of "vigorous action" is from 1777.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Companies should not exert excessive power over the economy or the public.
Theorists now suspect that it may exert other forces as well.
Well, I dehydrate extremely easily, even when not exerting myself at all.
Each draft season sees some significant jockeying down the homestretch as
  individuals step up and exert themselves.
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