Exert basically means to put forth effort to do something. For example, when you exert yourself in a workout, you can really feel the burn in your muscles.

The Latin verb exserere — with its derivative form exsertus, which is the source of our word — means to "put forth." That's where exert gets its meaning of physical force — consider that when you try hard at something, you put forth effort to do it, you push yourself. But exert can refer to other ways you "push": you exert your influence to convince others to think your way; when one nation exerts its power on another; and gravity exerts its force on us, holding us down on earth.

Definitions of exert

v put to use

exert one's power or influence”
Type of:
apply, employ, use, utilise, utilize
put into service; make work or employ for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose

v have and exercise

maintain, wield
Type of:
have, have got, hold
have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense

v make a great effort at a mental or physical task

exert oneself”
exert (oneself) excessively and go beyond one's strength
Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

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