verb (used with object), ex·er·cised, ex·er·cis·ing.

verb (used without object), ex·er·cised, ex·er·cis·ing.

to go through exercises; take bodily exercise.

Origin of exercise

1300–50; Middle English (noun) < Middle French exercice < Latin exercitium, equivalent to exercit(us) past participle of exercēre to train (ex- ex-1 + -ercit-, stem of combining form of arcēre to restrain) + -ium noun suffix
Related formsex·er·cis·a·ble, adjectivenon·ex·er·cis·a·ble, adjectivenon·ex·er·cise, nouno·ver·ex·er·cise, verb, o·ver·ex·er·cised, o·ver·ex·er·cis·ing.post·ex·er·cise, adjectivere·ex·er·cise, verb, re·ex·er·cised, re·ex·er·cis·ing.un·der·ex·er·cise, verb (used without object), un·der·ex·er·cised, un·der·ex·er·cis·ing.un·ex·er·cis·a·ble, adjectiveun·ex·er·cised, adjectivewell-ex·er·cised, adjective
Can be confusedexercise exorcise

Synonyms for exercise

Synonym study

2. Exercise, drill, practice refer to activities undertaken for training in some skill. Exercise is the most general term and may be either physical or mental: an exercise in arithmetic. Drill is disciplined repetition of set exercises, often performed in a group, directed by a leader: military drill. Practice is repeated or methodical exercise: Even great musicians require constant practice.

Antonyms for exercise

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for exercise

Contemporary Examples of exercise

Historical Examples of exercise

  • I had to walk as fast as I could, and exercise my limbs all I could, in order to keep warm.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

  • I have a mile's drive up town to take, and I think the exercise might be good for you.

  • Her comely face was slightly flushed, doubtless with the exercise of walking.

  • It was very certain that the exercise he was giving his brain must be beneficial.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Because you aren't young is all the more reason you need the exercise.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

British Dictionary definitions for exercise


verb (mainly tr)

to put into use; employto exercise tact
(intr) to take exercise or perform exercises; exert one's muscles, etc, esp in order to keep fit
to practise using in order to develop or trainto exercise one's voice
to perform or make proper use ofto exercise one's rights
to bring to bear; exertto exercise one's influence
(often passive) to occupy the attentions of, esp so as to worry or vexto be exercised about a decision
military to carry out or cause to carry out, manoeuvres, simulated combat operations, etc


physical exertion, esp for the purpose of development, training, or keeping fit
mental or other activity or practice, esp in order to develop a skill
a set of movements, questions, tasks, etc, designed to train, improve, or test one's ability in a particular fieldpiano exercises
a performance or work of art done as practice or to demonstrate a technique
the performance of a function; dischargethe exercise of one's rights; the object of the exercise is to win
(sometimes plural) military a manoeuvre or simulated combat operation carried out for training and evaluation
(usually plural) US and Canadian a ceremony or formal routine, esp at a school or collegeopening exercises; graduation exercises
gymnastics a particular type of event, such as performing on the horizontal bar
Derived Formsexercisable, adjective

Word Origin for exercise

C14: from Old French exercice, from Latin exercitium, from exercēre to drill, from ex- 1 + arcēre to ward off
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 exercise

mid-14c., "condition of being in active operation; practice for the sake of training," from Old French exercice (13c.) "exercise, execution of power; physical or spiritual exercise," from Latin exercitium "training, exercise," from exercitare, frequentative of exercere "keep busy, drive on," literally "remove restraint," from ex- "off" (see ex-) + arcere "keep away, prevent, enclose," from PIE *ark- "to hold, contain, guard" (see arcane).

Original sense may have been driving farm animals to the field to plow. Meaning "physical activity" first recorded in English late 14c.; in reference to written schoolwork from early 17c. The ending was abstracted for formations such as dancercise (1967); jazzercise (1977); and boxercise (1985).


late 14c., "to employ, put into active use," from exercise (n.); originally "to make use of;" also in regard to mental and spiritual training; sense of "engage in physical activity" is from 1650s. Related: Exercised; exercises; exercising.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for exercise




Active bodily exertion performed to develop or maintain fitness.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.