break (one's) back

(redirected from break his back)

break (one's) back

To put forth a great deal of effort. I've been breaking my back trying to get a passing grade this semester, so failing by two measly points is incredibly frustrating. Don't break your back trying to please these people—they'll never appreciate it.
See also: back, break

break one's back

(to do something) Go to break one's neck (to do something).
See also: back, break

break one's back

Also, break one's neck. Make a great effort, work very hard. For example, I've been breaking my back over this problem for the past week, or Don't break your neck to get there; we'll wait for you. Both versions of this expression, polite equivalents of break one's ass, transfer the literal fracture of one's back or neck to figurative exertion. However, break one's neck has the secondary connotation of proceeding with reckless speed, a sense also conveyed by the term breakneck pace. Originally this idiom alluded to literally breaking one's neck by rushing heedlessly along, but it has been used figuratively for the past 300 years. Also see break the back of.
See also: back, break

break your back

If you break your back to do something, you work extremely hard to try to do it. When you're breaking your back to make a business work, it's going to cut into your time with family. `I had been travelling all over the country, breaking my back just to get a job,' she says.
See also: back, break
References in classic literature ?
If I don't break his back at the first jump," said Rikki, "he can still fight.
If ye thought more of others, ye would perhaps speak less about yourself; and when a friend that likes you very well has passed over an offence without a word, you would be blithe to let it lie, instead of making it a stick to break his back with.
We see Jung's upbringing in 1950s Massachusetts as he watches his father (Ray Liotta, continuing his hot streak of good performances) break his back as a plumber so he can support the lifestyle expectations of his shrewish wife (Rachel Griffiths).