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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 termsEdit


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, chapter I, in Nobody, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, published 1915, OCLC 40817384:
      Little disappointed, then, she turned attention to "Chat of the Social World," gossip which exercised potent fascination upon the girl's intelligence.


See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit