I read an article and there are two sentences in it:

"He wore his arms off grabbing things first. He wore his legs off pushing in every place first."

I look up "wear off " in the M-W dictionary, and it says: "gradually decrease, disappear, or stop". But in my opinion, it doesn't make sense here.

What is the meaning of "wear off" here?

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    I would expect the quotes to be "wore his arms out" and "wore his legs out", not "wore his arms off" and "wore his legs off". (I speak American English.) – Jasper Apr 13 '18 at 23:23
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    What is the source of the quote? – Jasper Apr 13 '18 at 23:25
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    My daughter's book "Vocabu-Lit" Book B, page 44. i125.photobucket.com/albums/p58/timchk/IMG_8194.jpg What does "wore his arm out" and "wore his legs out" mean? Thank you very much! – quietrack1 Apr 14 '18 at 1:32

The meaning of the verbs is not direct. More like a metaphor, if you like.

It makes more sense if you imagine the persons as robots. And robots, while working veery hard for a very long time, especially if they are not maintained and greased properly, they start losing metal / material due to friction, erosion, heat...

So the meaning would be: my hands "eroded" (became shorter / thinner) because of the very much work done.

Bottom line: "became very tired"


By saying "I wore my arms out," it implies that I "used/worked my arms so much that they have become extremely tired."

This kind of phrase is something you will not find in a standard dictionary. They are called "Phrasal Verbs." For more information on this term "wearing out," try this link.

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