Etymology
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*werg- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to do."

It forms all or part of: allergic; allergy; argon; boulevard; bulwark; cholinergic; demiurge; dramaturge; energy; erg (n.1) "unit of energy;" ergative; ergonomics; ergophobia; George; georgic; handiwork; irk; lethargic; lethargy; liturgy; metallurgy; organ; organelle; organic; organism; organize; orgy; surgeon; surgery; synergism; synergy; thaumaturge; work; wright; wrought; zymurgy.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek ergon "work," orgia "religious performances;" Armenian gorc "work;" Avestan vareza "work, activity;" Gothic waurkjan, Old English wyrcan "to work," Old English weorc "deed, action, something done;" Old Norse yrka "work, take effect."
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*op- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to work, produce in abundance."

It forms all or part of: cooperate; cooperation; copious; copy; cornucopia; hors d'oeuvre; inure; maneuver; manure; oeuvre; office; official; officinal; omni-; omnibus; omnium gatherum; op. cit.; opera; operate; operation; operose; optimism; optimum; opulence; opulent; opus; Oscan.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit apas- "work, religious act," apnas- "possession, property;" Hittite happina- "rich;" Avestan huapah- "doing good work, masterly;" Latin opus "a work, labor, exertion;" Greek ompne "food, corn;" Old High German uoben "to start work, to practice, to honor;" German üben "to exercise, practice;" Dutch oefenen, Old Norse æfa, Danish øve "to exercise, practice;" Old English æfnan "to perform, work, do," afol "power."

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*plek- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to plait." It is an extended form of root *pel- (2) "to fold."

It forms all or part of: accomplice; application; apply; complex; complexion; complicate; complication; complicity; deploy; display; duplex; duplicate; duplicity; employ; explicate; explicit; exploit; flax; implex; implicate; implication; implicit; imply; multiply; perplex; perplexity; plait; plash (v.2) "to interlace;" pleat; -plex; plexus; pliable; pliant; plie; plight (n.1) "condition or state;" ply (v.1) "work with, use;" ply (v.2) "to bend; ply (n.) "a layer, fold;" replica; replicate; replication; reply; simplex; splay; triplicate.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit prasna- "turban;" Greek plekein "to plait, braid, wind, twine," plektos "twisted;" Latin plicare "to lay, fold, twist," plectere (past participle plexus) "to plait, braid, intertwine;" Old Church Slavonic plesti "to braid, plait, twist," Russian plesti; Gothic flahta "braid;" Old Norse fletta, Old High German flehtan "to plait;" Old English fleax "cloth made with flax, linen."
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rat-race (n.)

also rat race, 1934 in reference to aviation training, from rat (n.) + race (n.1).

A rat race is ... a simple game of "follow the leader" in fighter planes. The leader does everything he can think of — Immelmanns, loops, snap rolls, and turns, always turns, tighter and tighter. [Popular Science, May 1941]

In the 1930s actual rat races of some sort are frequently mentioned among popular carnival and gambling attractions. Meaning "fiercely competitive struggle," especially to maintain one's position in work or life is by 1939. Rat-run is from 1870 in the sense of "maze-like passages by which rats move about their territory," but originally and usually in a derogatory transferred sense.

[Matthew] Milton was not, at the period we write of [c. 1811], at all in the ring ; for in the following March he was steward of a rat-race, held at a public-house in Shepherd's-market, where four of these "varmin," decorated with different coloured ribands, were started for a sweepstakes, round the clubroom, before a host of sportsmen. ["Sporting Incidents at Home and Abroad," The Sporting Review, May 1848]
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