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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English exercise, from Old French exercise, from Latin exercitium.



exercise (countable and uncountable, plural exercises)

  1. Any activity designed to develop or hone a skill or ability.
    The teacher told us the next exercise is to write an essay.
  2. Physical activity intended to improve strength and fitness.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314, page 0108:
      This new-comer was a man who in any company would have seemed striking. [] He was smooth-faced, and his fresh skin and well-developed figure bespoke the man in good physical condition through active exercise, yet well content with the world's apportionment.
  3. A setting in action or practicing; employment in the proper mode of activity; exertion; application; use.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Thomas Jefferson
      exercise of the important function confided by the constitution to the legislature
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alfred Tennyson
      O we will walk this world, / Yoked in all exercise of noble end.
  4. The performance of an office, ceremony, or duty.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Joseph Addison
      Lewis refused even those of the church of England [] the public exercise of their religion.
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      to draw him from his holy exercise
  5. (obsolete) That which gives practice; a trial; a test.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Patience is more oft the exercise / Of saints, the trial of their fortitude.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


exercise (third-person singular simple present exercises, present participle exercising, simple past and past participle exercised)

  1. To exert for the sake of training or improvement; to practice in order to develop.
    to exercise troops or horses;  to exercise one's brain with a puzzle
  2. (intransitive) To perform physical activity for health or training.
    I exercise at the gym every day.
  3. (transitive) To use (a right, an option, etc.); to put into practice.
    The tenant exercised its option to renew the tenancy.
    She is going to exercise her right to vote.
    • Bible, Ezekiel xxii. 29
      The people of the land have used oppression and exercised robbery.
  4. (now often in passive) To occupy the attention and effort of; to task; to tax, especially in a painful or vexatious manner; harass; to vex; to worry or make anxious.
    exercised with pain
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Where pain of unextinguishable fire / Must exercise us without hope of end.
  5. (obsolete) To set in action; to cause to act, move, or make exertion; to give employment to.
    • Bible, Acts xxiv. 16
      Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter I:
      Little disappointed, then, she turned attention to "Chat of the Social World," gossip which exercised potent fascination upon the girl's intelligence.


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Further reading[edit]