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get up steam

Prepare to work hard, summon up energy. For example, If we can just get up steam we can finish in no time. This expression alludes to producing enough steam to work an engine. [Early 1800s] Also see under full speed ahead.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.