work one's fingers to the bone

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work (one's) fingers to the bone

To work excessively hard. Likened to literally wearing the skin off of one's hands from too much manual labor. I have worked my fingers to the bone renovating this house, and I'm glad to say that it has all been worth it. You have everyone working their fingers to the bone. You need to give them a break or they'll burn out.
See also: bone, finger, work
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

work one's fingers to the bone

Also, work one's tail or butt off . Exert oneself, labor very hard, as in She's working her fingers to the bone to support her children, or I work my tail off and then the government takes half my income in taxes. The first hyperbole, with its image of working the skin and flesh off one's fingers, dates from the mid-1800s; the less polite variants date from the first half of the 1900s.
See also: bone, finger, work
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

work one's fingers to the bone, to

To work extremely hard. This hyperbole, with its image of working the skin and flesh off one’s fingers, dates from the nineteenth century. The eighteenth century had to work like a horse; Jonathan Swift used this version in his Journal to Stella (1710): “Lord Wharton . . . is working like a horse for elections.” Some nineteenth-century exaggerators stated to work like a galley-slave. In America that translated into work like a nigger, which of course is offensive in the extreme (and probably was then, too).
See also: finger, work
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Instead of letting those low expectations drive my attitude or determine my grade, I used them as motivation to succeed, studying my butt off by rereading chapters and handwriting stacks of notecards before every quiz and test, and I walked out of that class with an A+ because of it.
I like that undersized forward-center Jynno Ladimo battled inside and gave a good account of himself (five points and six rebounds), Jeremy Felix looked so out of place but he played his butt off to provide six points, three rebounds and two assists.
Courtney English, 23, of Gloucester Township, New Jersey, was eight months pregnant but still "working her butt off' to save as she approached her due date.
"Kellen is a great kid and he works his butt off every day in practice and doesn't complain," Hicks said.
The reality star, 37, said she broke down and cried but insisted she's "worked butt off" on next week's routine.
She told us: "I'll just freelance my butt off - I'll be back over in Ireland this month.
"Trust yourself, believe in yourself, be yourself, stand up for yourself, and work your butt off. Be you, be different, and understand that a lot of people can speak into your life but they can not speak for you," said Coester to the 2018 graduating class.
Candice - who was snapped kissing Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood last month - said: "I spend most of the time on the ice freezing my butt off.
Candice said: "I spend most of the time on the ice freezing my butt off.
KIT LIST YOU'LL NEED TO BUILD A WATER BUTT To do this job you will need: A water butt (with stand, to raise it off the ground) A water butt diverter kit, to match your downpipe A tape measure A spirit level A hack saw A drill with a 25mm bit A rubber mallet (or block of wood and a hammer) A concrete paving slab and sharp sand (if fitting on an uneven surface) BE SURE TO RAISE YOUR BUTT OFF THE GROUND Depending on how much space you have, you can buy water butts that hold various volumes of water, from 25 litres up to over 500 litres.
And rather than spend my long Independence Day weekend doing important sofa and Seamless work by myself, I should call a friend, get my butt off the couch, and do something elevating for a change.
"I grinded my butt off to be even par through seven, just hang in there the best I possibly could and I finally hit it on eight right in the middle of the fairway."
Work I'VE been working, all week, just to pay the rent For I know that money, isn't heaven sent You have to work your butt off, sweat blood and tears Just to build a nest egg, for your future years.
If you want to make the president's club, if you want make a lot of money, if you want that promotion to sales manager or chief sales officer, you've got to work your butt off. You must put in a tremendous amount of effort if you want to rise to the top.
"Hoffner ran his butt off on the outside, and Francis ran his butt off on the inside.