elbow grease


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elbow grease

1. Vigorous scrubbing, typically to clean something. You'll never get that rust off without some elbow grease.
2. By extension, any strenuous, effortful physical work needed to do or accomplish something. It took some elbow grease, but I finally got this old engine up and running again. I know we're running out of time, but if we all use a bit of elbow grease, I think we'll be able to get the house built before the deadline.
See also: elbow, grease
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

elbow grease

Fig. hard scrubbing. Tom: What did you use to get your car so shiny? Mary: Just regular wax and some elbow grease. Joe put a lot of elbow grease into cleaning the kitchen.
See also: elbow, grease
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

elbow grease

Strenuous physical effort, as in You'll have to use some elbow grease to get the house painted in time. This term alludes to vigorous use of one's arm in cleaning, polishing, or the like. It soon was extended to any kind of hard work, and Anthony Trollope used it still more figuratively ( Thackeray, 1874): "Forethought is the elbow-grease which a novelist ... requires." [First half of 1600s]
See also: elbow, grease
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.

elbow grease

Elbow grease is the hard physical work of cleaning something. It took a considerable amount of polish and elbow grease before the brass shone like new. These products are designed to take the elbow grease out of cleaning.
See also: elbow, grease
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

ˈelbow grease

(informal) the effort used in physical work, especially in cleaning: The bath was so old and stained that we couldn’t get it clean no matter how much elbow grease we used.
See also: elbow, grease
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

elbow-grease

n. effort. All this job needs is a little more elbow-grease.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

elbow grease, to use

To apply physical effort. It has been said that this expression, dating from the seventeenth century, originally referred to a joke played on a new apprentice, who was sent out to a shop to purchase “elbow grease.” Originally meaning simply to use one’s arm vigorously in scrubbing or polishing, it soon was transferred to other kinds of effort as well. “Forethought is the elbow-grease which a novelist—or poet, or dramatist—requires,” said Anthony Trollope (Thackeray, 1874).
See also: elbow, use
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
That works out at 15p per dishwasher tablet, and assuming you won't need to use the whole bottle of Elbow Grease, each clean should cost around 50p.
He was trying to clean them with elbow grease. Of course, after you get the item cleaned you need to seal the skillet with oil and re-cure them.
The diagram shows how qualities such as "elbow grease" and "plenty of guts" work together to produce a fully-functioning entrepreneur.
Renovations were necessary; so, with a little over $100,000 and a lot of elbow grease and prayer the work got done.
Ogden City event sponsors supplied all painting and repair materials, while ASMC members contributed elbow grease and enthusiasm.
Excessive use of water risked damaging the tiles, so after some experimentation, workers discovered the winning combination was seven "wishabs" an hour and lots of elbow grease. Described by the Tishman team as a fast-eroding cross between an eraser and a sponge, workers used the wishabs to scour each and every inch of tile.
The scrubbing strip allows users to add extra elbow grease to scuff marks and other spots without bending down.
Proper restoration of old guns is an expensive, labor-intensive process requiring lots of elbow grease. After completely dissembling the gun (and assuming it functions fine) there are a few basic steps you must follow: First, remove all the old finish; second, prepare the surface by sanding and polishing; and third, color the metal by bluing, color-case or other means.
A professional-quality, in-depth resource fully accessible to lay readers, and a "must-have" for anyone considering some serious home improvement elbow grease.
But while the culprits--allergens--can be found in everything from air vents to bed sheets to carpets, experts note they can be kept under control--and red eyes to a minimum--through a combination of common sense, elbow grease and technology.
Farming was his first real job but when his father retired, the family gave up their land and David decided applying elbow grease to beautiful furniture was his future.
The new Flash Car Wash system, launched in the UK yesterday, lets you get that pin-shine finish without any of the elbow grease. We tried the system at the Monaco round of the WRC championship.
In other words, to be productive, it's time to get back to good, old-fashioned elbow grease.
She takes pride in everything she does and, as her immaculate home proves, she certainly isn't afraid of a little elbow grease.
A little know-how, elbow grease, and the perfect tools are the seeds of a great garden (and gardener).