make quick work of: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘make quick work of’ mean?

The idiom "make quick work of" means to complete or finish something quickly and efficiently.

Idiom Explorer

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Idioms are fascinating expressions that provide insights into the culture and history of a society. One such idiom, "make quick work of," has its origins in American English. It is commonly used to describe completing tasks or overcoming obstacles with great speed and efficiency.

The exact origins of "make quick work of" are uncertain, although it is believed to have emerged in the early 18th century. The idiom has since become entrenched in everyday language, finding its way into various contexts and situations. Its versatility contributes to its enduring popularity.

When using "make quick work of," it is important to consider the tone and context. While it conveys efficiency and proficiency, it may also imply a disregard for the difficulty of the task at hand. It celebrates one's ability to conquer challenges easily, which may not always be well-received in certain situations.

Figuratively, "make quick work of" goes beyond literal tasks. It can be applied to problem-solving, decision-making, or defeating opponents. The idiom suggests speed and effectiveness, highlighting the ability to accomplish a goal with minimal effort or struggle.

Efficiency and speed make quick work of productivity.

Another related idiom is "make short work of." Like "make quick work of," it describes the ability to complete tasks or overcome obstacles quickly and efficiently. The use of "short" emphasizes the brevity and ease with which the task is accomplished.

Similarly, "make light work of" is another related idiom that conveys the idea of completing tasks with ease and speed. The use of "light" suggests that the effort required is minimal, further emphasizing the efficiency of the person or team involved.

A more dramatic expression that can be used synonymously with "make quick work of" is "in one fell swoop." This phrase, which originated from Shakespeare's Macbeth, describes completing multiple tasks or challenges in a single, decisive action. It implies a swift and comprehensive solution to a complex situation.

The enduring popularity of idioms like "make quick work of" reflects the evolution of language and its ability to capture the complexities of human thought and action. These idioms serve as reminders of the ever-changing nature of communication and the cultural nuances they embody.

Idioms like "make quick work of" offer a glimpse into the linguistic creativity and cultural significance that language holds. They provide a nuanced way to express ideas and concepts, connecting people through shared understanding and interpretation.

"make quick work of" is an idiom rooted in American English that describes completing tasks or overcoming obstacles with speed and efficiency. Its figurative nature highlights both the ability to accomplish goals effortlessly and the potential negative connotations associated with it. Related idioms like "make short work of," "make light work of," and "in one fell swoop" offer alternative ways to convey similar concepts. These idioms remind us of the ever-evolving nature of language and its ability to capture the complexities of human thought and action.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "make quick work of" can be used in a sentence:

  1. She made quick work of her opponent, defeating him in just a few minutes.
  2. The experienced chef made quick work of chopping the vegetables.
  3. With his exceptional speed, the sprinter made quick work of the race, leaving his competitors far behind.

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