Can anybody explain why workout means physucal exercise? or "to work out" means "to exercise"?

I understand "to work out" has a lot of meanings. but I'm really curious about what the origin of the word "workout" is.

What do we work when we work out...of course our body. then why was "work" associated with "out" and became the meaning of "physical exercise"?

What kind of images dose "out" have here? like we "work" our body "out" of what? out of bad shape? so we can work our body into good shape?

Pleses omebody explain it to me. or let me hear what you can guess plz.
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Hi.I'm the one who posted above.

I just signed up after I did it. so I just wanted to say hi!

A lot of English idioms use prepositions to give the word a new meaning:

shut down, shut up, work out, work up, break down, break up, etc.

Sometimes the dictionary will tell you where the words came from, or you can look at an etymology website.

My guess is that doing hard work like construction (where you have to lift heavy things) resembles lifting weights at a gym.
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workout is a relatively new word in the English language -- only about 100 years old. It supposedly originated in boxing jargon.

It is formed, in my opinion, on the pattern of 'run out' or 'play out', in both of which the word out is added to indicate "all the way", "to completion", "exhaustively", or "until nothing is left". Hence, a workout is the expending of effort (that is, working) until no further work can be done. The exhausation of the body thus forms something like a parallel with the exhaustion of, say, supplies.

Hey vorpar,CJ! thanks for your responses!

What CJ's explaining totally figures to me, this 'out' surely is about completion, then everything makes sense.

and about etymology website, it was a good call! I didn' know the existance of this kind of dictionaries .

Thanks both of you again!

Hi! I am wondering about the exact same question, and found CJs reply to be helpful, though I have not had much luck with the online etymology dictionaries. Could someone provide me with the name/website of a good one that might include an entry for "work out" or "working out"?


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I'm not really sure how long it's been since you posted this, but the first link from a simple google search will yield a site with an entry for "workout." Typically, you won't find dictionaries that recognize two-word or multi-word entries, unless it somehow includes phrases or clauses in it's list of definitions (which, for the most part, a typical dictionary, or etymology dictionary, will not).
Back in the day.

Day 1
ok team we have a problem with strength. We are going to WORK this problem OUT by exercising our muscles with weights.

Day 2
Come on team we have to keep WORKing our strength problem OUT.

Day 4
Ok team time to WORK OUT our strength problem

Day 30
Team it's time for another strength WORKOUT.
I was outside separating a vine from a back porch and went to work later that day, and shook a coworker's hand. He asked me if I'd been "working out" and I said no. Later I thought I HAD been working 'out' because I was doing yard work. Maybe exercising in a gym environment has the same physical results as working "out" or outside like chopping logs woopty woop.
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