strain away

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strain away

1. To draw or pull away (from someone or something) with great effort. I handed the baby to her grandfather, but she strained away from him the moment she was in his arms. I tightened my grip on the reins when I felt the horses beginning to strain away.
2. To work (on something) continuously, diligently, and with a great amount of effort. Lawmakers from both political parties have strained away at comprehensive tax reform legislation. I've been straining away for nearly a year on this book, and I thought I would have a lot more to show for it by now.
See also: away, strain

strain away (at something)

to work very hard, continuously, at doing something. She strained away at her weights, getting stronger every day. She was straining away on the rowing machine when we came in.
See also: away, strain
References in classic literature ?
"By the black rood of Waltham!" he roared, "if any knave among you lays a finger-end upon the edge of my gown, I will crush his skull like a filbert!" With his thick knotted arms, his thundering voice, and his bristle of red hair, there was something so repellent in the man that the three brothers flew back at the very glare of him; and the two rows of white monks strained away from him like poplars in a tempest.