Do you remember when you got your first bicycle? Most kids remember their first bike and how special they felt to be able to wheel around their neighborhood with their friends. There's nothing quite like the breeze blowing through your hair as you zip down the street with your pals.
With that freedom, however, comes responsibility. When you have a bicycle, you have to take care of it. You must make sure the tires have plenty of air and your chain stays oiled. When your bike gets dirty, you also need to wash it.
If you've been mudding, getting your bicycle clean can be quite a chore. Spraying it with the hose only goes so far. Is there a way to get the rest of that mud and grime off? If you ask an adult, they might very well tell you that you just need to use a little elbow grease!
Elbow grease? Can you find that at the hardware store? Nope! Elbow grease is not an actual miracle product that will make mud and grime disappear. It's actually an idiom that refers to good old-fashioned hard work.
An idiom is a phrase with a meaning that's different from the meaning of the actual words used. For example, when you say it's raining cats and dogs, you mean that it's raining very hard, not that there are actually cats and dogs falling from the sky. Idioms are a popular way to express an idea with colorful language or comparisons. Experts believe there are probably over 25,000 idioms in the English language!
Elbow grease is an idiom that's been around for hundreds of years in several languages. Although it conjures up the image of strenuous use of the arm, such as might occur during scrubbing or cleaning, it is generally used to refer to any sort of hard work or manual labor.
It's usually used in a humorous context to indicate that some jobs simply cannot be easily done with a tool or machine or made easier by a miracle chemical of some sort. Instead, some jobs can only be done well by combining human energy and hard work.
It is these jobs that require a little “elbow grease." For example, getting all that mud and grime off your bike probably isn't going to happen without some hard work on your part.
Not everyone knows the meaning of this idiom, however, which makes for some good practical jokes at job sites. There have been many apprentices who have been sent on a wild goose chase searching for the elusive can of elbow grease for their bosses!
Thanks to today's modern technology, there are millions of chemicals, tools, and machines that make many of the tasks we face daily a breeze to complete. However, there will always be those tasks that require manual labor, which is physical work done by people. If you look at a typical list of household chores, you'll find that, despite modern technology, there are still many chores that simply require a little elbow grease to get the job done!