Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French exercice, from Latin exercitium, from exercitare to train, exercise, frequentative of exercēre to train, occupy, from ex- + arcēre to enclose, hold off — more at ark
Date: 14th century
a. the act of bringing into play or realizing in action ; use <the exercise of self-control> b. the discharge of an official function or professional occupation <exercise of his judicial duties> c. the act or an instance of carrying out the terms of an agreement (as an option) — often used attributively <an option's exercise price> 2. a. regular or repeated use of a faculty or bodily organ b. bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness <trying to get more exercise> 3. something performed or practiced in order to develop, improve, or display a specific capability or skill <arithmetic exercises> <vocal exercises> 4. a performance or activity having a strongly marked secondary or ulterior aspect <party politics has always been an exercise in compromise — H. S. Ashmore> 5. a. a maneuver, operation, or drill carried out for training and discipline <naval exercises> b. plural a program including speeches, announcements of awards and honors, and various traditional practices of secular or religious character <commencement exercises> II. verb (-cised; -cising) Date: 14th century transitive verb 1. a. to make effective in action ; use <didn't exercise good judgment> b. to bring to bear ; exert <exercise influence> c. to implement the terms of (as an option) 2. a. to use repeatedly in order to strengthen or develop <exercise a muscle> b. to train (as troops) by drills and maneuvers c. to put through exercises <exercise the horses> 3. a. to engage the attention and effort of b. to cause anxiety, alarm, or indignation in <the issues exercising voters this year> intransitive verb to take exercise • exercisable adjective
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.