shoulder to the wheel, to put/set one's(redirected from to put/set one's shoulder to the wheel)
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.
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.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer