Elbow grease


Elbow grease

Elbow grease is an old term for working hard at manual labour or trades, as in "put some elbow grease into that".

It has also been used as a practical joke by master tradesperson on apprentices, e.g. "Go fetch some elbow grease from him". Each tradesperson will say someone else has the elbow grease and send the unwitting apprentice on to another master tradesperson. The snipe hunt will continue until the apprentice gives up, catches on or runs out of people/places to search.

Appearances in popular media

*The prank was used in the popular web series Red vs. Blue where two of the Red soldiers tell their new recruit to go fetch "Elbow grease and headlight fluid" from the store. Their prank backfires when the recruit instead gets the other team's flag, mistaking the other base for the store.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • elbow grease — {n.} Exertion; effort; energy. * / You ll have to use a little more elbow grease to get these windows clean, Mother said to Ed./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • elbow grease — {n.} Exertion; effort; energy. * / You ll have to use a little more elbow grease to get these windows clean, Mother said to Ed./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • Elbow grease — Elbow El bow, n. [AS. elboga, elnboga (akin to D. elleboga, OHG. elinbogo, G. ellbogen, ellenbogen, Icel. ?lnbogi; prop.; arm bend); eln ell (orig., forearm) + boga a bending. See 1st {Ell}, and 4th {Bow}.] 1. The joint or bend of the arm; the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • elbow grease — If something requires elbow grease, it involves a lot of hard physical work …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • elbow grease — elbow ,grease noun uncount INFORMAL hard physical work that you do to clean something …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • elbow grease — [n] physical effort effort, exertion, labor, muscle, oomph*, strain, strength, sweat, toil; concepts 87,100,351,360,362 …   New thesaurus

  • elbow grease — ► NOUN informal ▪ hard physical work, especially vigorous polishing or cleaning …   English terms dictionary

  • elbow grease — n. Informal vigorous physical effort …   English World dictionary

  • elbow grease — noun use of physical or mental energy; hard work he got an A for effort they managed only with great exertion • Syn: ↑effort, ↑exertion, ↑travail, ↑sweat • Derivationally related forms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • elbow grease — noun Effort or hard work, especially physical work involving repeated motion of the forearm, such as scrubbing. When we were young we used to be told, in our house at home, that elbow grease was the one essential necessary to getting a tough… …   Wiktionary


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