beaver away

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From the metaphorical image of a person working as industriously as a beaver building its dam.


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beaver away (third-person singular simple present beavers away, present participle beavering away, simple past and past participle beavered away)

  1. (idiomatic) To work hard at a task.
    She won't be going out much, as she's beavering away on her thesis.
    • 1979 June 28, “Feedback: Trouble at th’ Laboratory”, in New Scientist, page 1103:
      The most obvious impact of the strike was the “havoc” created at Glasgow and London’s Heathrow airports by striking air traffic controllers (who joined the strike in solidarity and are not themselves directly involved in the dispute). But quietly and without fuss, thousands of scientists normally beavering away in seclusion downed microscopes, test tubes, and oscilloscopes.
    • 1988, Michael Francis Atiyah, An Interview with Michael Atiyah: Collected Works: Volume 1: Early Papers, General Papers, page 299:
      I was thinking more of the tendency today for people to develop whole areas of mathematics on their own, in a rather abstract fashion. They just go on beavering away.
    • 2004, Michael Coulson, An Insider’s Guide to the Mining Sector, published 2011, unnumbered page:
      On the other side there was a floor to ceiling partition, on which the mining share prices and dealing boards were fixed, separating the mining sales desk from the specialist mining research group who beavered away behind the partition.

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