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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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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
Yale is a node in a web of money, power, and status that exerts constant
  pressure on admissions decisions.
At the same time, predation by bears exerts an important influence on the
  survival and evolution of the salmon populations.
What pressure the government exerts now is directed mostly at halting gas
The darn thing is so dense that it exerts a gravitational pull so strong that
  not even light can escape.
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