Go the Extra Mile

Also: Walk the Extra Mile

Meaning of Idiom ‘Go the Extra Mile’

To go the extra mile means to do more than is expect or is needed; to make a greater effort than needed. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.


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Examples of Use

“If you go the extra mile at work they just expect more from you without actually giving you any credit.”

“I really went the extra mile on our anniversary this year,” said Frank. “We had a great time!”

“We are going to face a lot of difficulties getting through these next few months. I hope you are all prepared to go the extra mile.”

Origin

This idiom may be Biblical in origin. In slightly different wording, it appears in Matthew 5:41:

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twaine.”

Twaine means “twice as much” or in this case, twice as far.

The Bible passage has often been cited as a reference to angaria or the Roman law that allowed soldiers to requisition transport. Also called angarum exhibito or praestatio, this term was adopted by the Romans from Persian where it referred to posting of relays by horses. This Roman law included forcing people under Roman rule to maintain the supplies and horses of Roman soldiers and to forward letters or carry their burdens as well as allowing Roman authorities to conscript men and animals for public works

Although ‘going an extra mile’ is recorded as saying of Jesus, Galilee was not occupied by Romans troops so it is unlikely Jesus would have come across any there. We have to imagine that he encountered this practice on his travels or, perhaps more likely, he was simply repeating a saying that already existed.

The modern wording and meaning were first seen in English in 1907. 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.