put forth



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put forth (third-person singular simple present puts forth, present participle putting forth, simple past and past participle put forth)

  1. (transitive) To give or supply; to make or create (implies trying or striving).
    to put forth an effort
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, Cato, a Tragedy, London: J. Tonson, Act I, Scene 1, p. 3,[1]
      Now, Marcus, now, thy Virtue’s on the Proof:
      Put forth thy utmost Strength, work ev’ry Nerve,
      And call up all thy Father in thy Soul:
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, Volume 2, Chapter 16,[2]
      “Oh! when a gallant young man, like Mr. Frank Churchill,” said Mr. Knightley dryly, “writes to a fair lady like Miss Woodhouse, he will, of course, put forth his best.”
    • 1853, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ruth, Chapter 8,[3]
      He could not move as quickly as most men, but he put forth his utmost speed.
    • 1950, Josephine Tey, To Love and Be Wise, New York: Pocket Book, 1977, Chapter Four, p. 36,[4]
      But his actor’s need to be liked was stronger than his resentment, and he was putting forth all his charm in an effort to win over this so-unexpected antagonist.
  2. (transitive) To extend forward (a body part or something held).
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act I, Scene 2,[5]
      Put forth thy hand, reach at the glorious gold.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, 1 Samuel 14:27,[6]
      [] he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb []
    • 1613, John Donne, “Epithalamion made at Lincolnes Inne” in Poems, London: John Marriot, 1633, p. 135,[7]
      Put forth, put forth that warme balme-breathing thigh,
      Which when next time you in these sheets wil smother
      There it must meet another,
      Which never was, but must be, oft, more nigh;
    • 1714, Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock, London: Bernard Lintott, Canto 3, p. 22,[8]
      With his broad Sabre next, a Chief in Years,
      The hoary Majesty of Spades appears;
      Puts forth one manly Leg, to sight reveal’d;
      The rest his many-colour’d Robe conceal’d.
  3. (transitive) To advance, offer, propose (often verbally).
    • 1604, Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, edited by Israel Gollancz, London: J.M. Dent, 1897, Scene 8, p. 49,[9]
      They put forth questions of astrology,
      Which Faustus answer’d with such learnèd skill
      As they admired and wonder’d at his wit.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Matthew 13:24,[10]
      Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
    • 1898, H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, Book One, Chapter 15,[11]
      So far as one can ascertain from the conflicting accounts that have been put forth, the majority of them remained busied with preparations []
    • 1920, Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, Book II, Chapter 26,[12]
      By the fifteenth the season was in full blast, Opera and theatres were putting forth their new attractions, dinner-engagements were accumulating, and dates for dances being fixed.
    • 1958, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, New York: Harper & Bros., c. 1962, Chapter 11,[13]
      In its present form, the social order depends for its continued existence on the acceptance, without too many embarrassing questions, of the propaganda put forth by those in authority and the propaganda hallowed by the local traditions.
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To send (someone) out, remove (someone) from a place.
    • 1610, John Healey (translator), St. Augustine, Of the Citie of God, London, George Eld, Book 14, Chapter 21, p. 524,[14]
      [] they begot no children vntill they were put forth of Paradise []
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Acts 5:34,[15]
      Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
  5. (transitive) To emit, send out, give off (light, odour, etc.).
  6. (transitive, intransitive) To grow, shoot, bud, or germinate.
    • c. 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act V, Scene 2,[20]
      [] her hedges even-pleach’d,
      Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,
      Put forth disorder’d twigs;
    • 1627, Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum: or, A Naturall Historie in Ten Centuries, London: William Lee, Century 6, p. 137,[21]
      [] [t]ake from vnder Walls, or the like, where Nettles put forth in abundance, the Earth which you shall there finde []
    • 1950, C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, New York: Macmillan, Chapter 11,[22]
      Soon the beech trees had put forth their delicate, transparent leaves.
  7. (transitive, intransitive) (of a ship) To leave (a port or haven).
    • c. 1606, William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, Scene 10,[23]
      [] order for sea is given;
      They have put forth the haven [—]
      Where their appointment we may best discover,
      And look on their endeavour.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter 2,[24]
      And where but from Nantucket, too, did that first adventurous little sloop put forth, partly laden with imported cobblestones—so goes the story—to throw at the whales, in order to discover when they were nigh enough to risk a harpoon from the bowsprit?

Usage notesEdit

In contemporary English, put forth is generally used in more formal or literary contexts.

Related termsEdit