put one's shoulder to the wheel

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put (one's) shoulder to the wheel

To make a sustained, concentrated, and vigorous effort; to work very hard and diligently. After I was nearly expelled in my first year of college, I decided to stop fooling around, put my shoulder to the wheel, and get as much out of my degree as I could. I know that the new deadline is tight, but if everyone puts their shoulders to the wheel, I know we can get it done in time!
See also: put, shoulder, to, wheel
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

put one's shoulder to the wheel

Work hard, make a strenuous effort, as in We'll have to put our shoulder to the wheel to get this job done. This metaphoric term, alluding to pushing a heavy vehicle that has bogged down, has been used figuratively since the late 1700s.
See also: put, shoulder, to, wheel
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.

shoulder to the wheel, to put/set one's

To make a determined effort, to work hard. This allusion to pushing a bogged-down cart dates from the early seventeenth century. Robert Burton used it in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621): “Like him in Aesop . . . he whipt his horses withal, and put his shoulder to the wheel.” Only in the eighteenth century was it extended to any kind of hard work, as in Madame d’Arblay’s diary entry (June 1792): “We must all put our shoulders to the wheel.”
See also: put, set, shoulder, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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