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push

[poo sh]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to press upon or against (a thing) with force in order to move it away.
  2. to move (something) in a specified way by exerting force; shove; drive: to push something aside; to push the door open.
  3. to effect or accomplish by thrusting obstacles aside: to push one's way through the crowd.
  4. to cause to extend or project; thrust.
  5. to press or urge to some action or course: His mother pushed him to get a job.
  6. to press (an action, proposal, etc.) with energy and insistence: to push a bill through Congress.
  7. to carry (an action or thing) toward a conclusion or extreme: She pushed the project to completion.
  8. to press the adoption, use, sale, etc., of: to push inferior merchandise on customers.
  9. to press or bear hard upon, as in dealings with someone: The prosecutor pushed him for an answer.
  10. to put into difficulties because of the lack of something specified (usually followed by for): to be pushed for time.
  11. Slang. to peddle (illicit drugs).
  12. Informal. to be approaching a specific age, speed, or the like: The maestro is pushing ninety-two.
  13. Photography. to modify (film processing) to compensate for underexposure.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to exert a thrusting force upon something.
  2. to use steady force in moving a thing away; shove.
  3. to make one's way with effort or persistence, as against difficulty or opposition.
  4. to extend or project; thrust: The point of land pushed far out into the sea.
  5. to put forth vigorous or persistent efforts.
  6. Slang. to sell illicit drugs.
  7. to move on being pushed: a swinging door that pushes easily.
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noun
  1. the act of pushing; a shove or thrust.
  2. a contrivance or part to be pushed in order to operate a mechanism.
  3. a vigorous onset or effort.
  4. a determined advance against opposition, obstacles, etc.
  5. a vigorous and determined military attack or campaign: The big push began in April.
  6. the pressure of circumstances, activities, etc.
  7. Informal. persevering energy; enterprise.
  8. Informal. a crowd or company of people.
  9. British. dismissal from a job; sack.
  10. Australian Slang. a gang of hoodlums.
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Verb Phrases
  1. push around, to treat contemptuously and unfairly; bully: She's not the kind of person who can be pushed around.
  2. push off, Informal. to go away; depart: We stopped at Denver for the night and were ready to push off again the following morning.
  3. push on, to press forward; continue; proceed: The pioneers, despite overwhelming obstacles, pushed on across the plains.
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Idioms
  1. push one's luck. luck(def 12).
  2. when/if push comes to shove, when or if matters are ultimately confronted or resolved; when or if a problem must be faced; in a crucial situation: If push comes to shove, the government will impose quotas on imports.
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Origin of push

1250–1300; Middle English pushen, poshen, posson (v.) < Middle French pousser, Old French po(u)lser < Latin pulsāre. See pulsate
Related formsout·push, verb (used with object)un·pushed, adjective

Synonyms

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3. shoulder. 5. persuade, impel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for if push comes to shove

push

verb
  1. (when tr, often foll by off, away, etc) to apply steady force to (something) in order to move it
  2. to thrust (one's way) through something, such as a crowd, by force
  3. (when intr, often foll by for) to apply oneself vigorously (to achieving a task, plan, etc)
  4. (tr) to encourage or urge (a person) to some action, decision, etc
  5. (when intr, often foll by for) to be an advocate or promoter (of)to push for acceptance of one's theories
  6. (tr) to use one's influence to help (a person)to push one's own candidate
  7. to bear upon (oneself or another person) in order to achieve more effort, better results, etcshe was a woman who liked to push her husband
    1. (tr)to take undue risks, esp through overconfidence, thus risking failureto push one's luck
    2. (intr)to act overconfidently
  8. sport to hit (a ball) with a stiff pushing stroke
  9. (tr) informal to sell (narcotic drugs) illegally
  10. (intr; foll by out, into, etc) (esp of geographical features) to reach or extendthe cliffs pushed out to the sea
  11. (tr) to overdevelop (a photographic film), usually by the equivalent of up to two stops, to compensate for underexposure or increase contrast
  12. push up daisies or push up the daisies slang to be dead and buried
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noun
  1. the act of pushing; thrust
  2. a part or device that is pressed to operate some mechanism
  3. informal ambitious or enterprising drive, energy, etc
  4. informal a special effort or attempt to advance, as of an army in a warto make a push
  5. informal a number of people gathered in one place, such as at a party
  6. Australian slang a group or gang, esp one considered to be a clique
  7. sport a stiff pushing stroke
  8. at a push informal with difficulty; only just
  9. the push informal, mainly British dismissal, esp from employment
  10. when push comes to shove informal when matters become critical; when a decision needs to be made
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French pousser, from Latin pulsāre, from pellere to drive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for if push comes to shove

push

v.

early 14c., from Old French poulser (Modern French pousser), from Latin pulsare "to beat, strike, push," frequentative of pellere (past participle pulsus) "to push, drive, beat" (see pulse (n.1)). Meaning "promote" is from 1714; meaning "approach a certain age" is from 1937. For palatization of -s-, OED compares brush (n.1); quash. Related: Pushed; pushing.

"Pushing up the daisies now," said a soldier of his dead comrade. ["The American Florist," vol. XLVIII, No. 1504, March 31, 1917]

To push (someone) around is from 1923. To push (one's) luck is from 1754. To push the envelope in figurative sense is late 1980s. To push up daisies "be dead and buried" is from World War I.

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push

n.

1560s, from push (v.). Phrase push comes to shove is from 1936.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper