• (RP) IPA: /ˈɛk.sə.saɪz/
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈɛk.sɚ.saɪz/


  1. (countable) Any activity designed to develop or hone a skill or ability.
    The teacher told us that the next exercise is to write an essay.
    • desire of knightly exercise
    • 1693, [John Locke], “§178”, in Some Thoughts Concerning Education, London: […] A[wnsham] and J[ohn] Churchill, […], OCLC 1161614482 ↗:
      an exercise of the eyes and memory
  2. (countable, uncountable) Activity intended to improve physical, or sometimes mental, strength and fitness.
    Swimming is good exercise.
    I like to do my exercises every morning before breakfast.
    I do crosswords for mental exercise.
    • 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.
    The law guarantees us the free exercise of our rights.
    • exercise of the important function confided by the constitution to the legislature
    • 1847, Alfred Tennyson, The Princess: A Medley, London: Edward Moxon, […], OCLC 2024748 ↗, (please specify ):
      O we will walk this world, / Yoked in all exercise of noble end.
  4. The performance of an office, ceremony, or duty.
    I assisted the ailing vicar in the exercise of his parish duties.
    • 1705 (revised 1718), Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy
      Lewis […] refused even those of the church of England […] the public exercise of their religion.
    • c. 1593, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Richard the Third: […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, (please specify the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals)]:
      He doth entreat your Grace, my noble lord, To visit him tomorrow or next day. To draw him from his holy exercise.
  5. (obsolete) That which gives practice; a trial; a test.
    • 1671, John Milton, “Samson Agonistes, […]”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: Printed by J. M[acock] for John Starkey […], OCLC 228732398 ↗, [https://archive.org/stream/paradiseregaindp00milt_0#page/{}/mode/1up page 77]:
      But patience is more oft the exerciſe / Of Saints, the trial of thir fortitude,
Translations Translations Verb

exercise (exercises, present participle exercising; 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.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Ezekiel 22:29 ↗:
      The people of the land haue vsed oppression, and exercised robbery, and haue vexed the poore and needie: yea, they haue oppressed the stranger wrongfully.
  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
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 2 ↗”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗, lines 88–89:
      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.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Acts 24:16 ↗:
      And herein doe I exercise my selfe to haue alwayes a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, chapter I, in Nobody, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, published 1915, OCLC 40817384 ↗, page 18 ↗:
      Little disappointed, then, she turned attention to "Chat of the Social World," gossip which exercised potent fascination upon the girl's intelligence.
Translations Translations
  • German: sich bewegen
  • Spanish: hacer ejercicio

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