put to it, be

Idioms & Phrases

put to it, be

Be confronted with a severe difficulty, as in I was put to it to finish this book on time. This usage is derived from the active sense of put to it, that is, "force or challenge someone to something." [c. 1600]

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