take to task


[task, tahsk]
a definite piece of work assigned to, falling to, or expected of a person; duty.
any piece of work.
a matter of considerable labor or difficulty.
Obsolete. a tax or impost.
verb (used with object)
to subject to severe or excessive labor or exertion; put a strain upon (powers, resources, etc.).
to impose a task on.
Obsolete. to tax.
of or pertaining to a task or tasks: A task chart will help organize the department's work.
take to task, to call to account; blame; censure: The teacher took them to task for not doing their homework.

1250–1300; Middle English (noun) < Medieval Latin tasca, metathetic variant of taxa tax

taskless, adjective
subtask, noun
untasked, adjective

1, 2. job, assignment. Task, chore, job, assignment refer to a definite and specific instance or act of work. Task and chore and, to a lesser extent, job often imply work that is tiresome, arduous, or otherwise unpleasant. Task usually refers to a clearly defined piece of work, sometimes of short or limited duration, assigned to or expected of a person: the task of pacifying angry customers; a difficult, time-consuming task. A chore is a minor task, usually one of several performed as part of a routine, as in farming, and often more tedious than difficult: the daily chore of taking out the garbage; early morning chores of feeding the livestock. Job is the most general of these terms, referring to almost any work or responsibility, including a person's means of earning a living: the job of washing the windows; a well-paying job in advertising. Assignment refers to a specific task allocated to a person by someone in a position of authority: a homework assignment; a reporter's assignment to cover international news.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
task (tɑːsk)
1.  a specific piece of work required to be done as a duty or chore
2.  an unpleasant or difficult job or duty
3.  any piece of work
4.  take to task to criticize or reprove
5.  to assign a task to
6.  to subject to severe strain; tax
[C13: from Old French tasche, from Medieval Latin tasca, from taxa tax, from Latin taxāre to tax]

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

c.1300, "piece of work imposed as a duty," from O.N.Fr. tasque (13c., O.Fr. tasche, Fr. tâche) "duty, tax," from V.L. *tasca "a duty, assessment," metathesis of M.L. taxa, a back-formation of L. taxare "to evaluate, estimate, assess" (see tax). General sense of "any piece
of work that has to be done" is first recorded 1590s. Verb "to put a strain upon" is from 1590s. Phrase take one to task (1680s) preserves the sense that is closer to tax. Ger. tasche "pocket" is from the same V.L. source (via O.H.G. tasca), with presumable sense evolution from "amount of work imposed by some authority," to "payment for that work," to "wages," to "pocket into which money is put," to "any pocket."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

take to task

Upbraid, scold; blame or censure. For example, The teacher took Doris to task for turning in such a sloppy report. This term, dating from the mid-1700s, at first meant either assigning or challenging someone to a task. Its current sense dates from the late 1800s.

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