late 15c., "laborious attempt, strenuous exertion," from French effort, from Old French esforz "force, impetuosity, strength, power," verbal noun from esforcier "force out, exert oneself," from Vulgar Latin *exfortiare "to show strength" (source of Italian sforza), from Latin ex "out" (see ex-) + Latin fortis "strong" (see fort).
Effort is only effort when it begins to hurt. [José Ortega y Gasset, writing of Goethe in Partisan Review, vol. xvi, part ii, 1949]
Related: Efforts "voluntary exertion," also "result of exertion."
word-forming element meaning "lacking, cannot be, does not," from Old English -leas, from leas "free (from), devoid (of), false, feigned," from Proto-Germanic *lausaz (cognates: Dutch -loos, German -los "-less," Old Norse lauss "loose, free, vacant, dissolute," Middle Dutch los, German los "loose, free," Gothic laus "empty, vain"), from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart." Related to loose and lease.
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Definitions of effortless
requiring or apparently requiring no effort;
the swallows glided in an effortless way through the busy air