I forgot the verb for proceeding with/despite difficulty, when talking about a process. It's '[something] ahead' (but you may feel free to offer something without 'ahead'). Like 'forge ahead' but with a different meaning. Like

Since the autocrat's ouster, the reforms in the country are [verb]ing ahead [along?], and the reaction sentiment is getting stronger.

or, a bit different

We hit a few snags, but the project is [verb]ing ahead.

In both examples, it's proceeding with difficulty. The difference is the first sentence stresses difficulty (the reforms are slow, people get disillusioned), the second proceeding (it's coming to fruition nonetheless, everything's fine).

  • 7
    Don't post answers in the comment section, please.
    – nick012000
    Feb 8, 2021 at 13:59
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    I know that this is ELL, but I just have to mention the newly invented French word (by young people): traillarder [tʁajaʁde]. It comes directly from "try hard".
    – WoJ
    Feb 9, 2021 at 17:42

13 Answers 13


Maybe the word you are looking for is slog.

to plod (one's way) perseveringly especially against difficulty,
to work hard and steadily

For example,

Other people who lack an initial guiding title or vision will need to slog through multiple drafts of notes and outlines...

  • 3
    Decent suggestion, though worth noting that "slog" emphasizes extremely slow progress. Maybe that's what OP wants, it just depends. Feb 7, 2021 at 23:59
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    I'd like to see "slog" used in the OP's original context. "We hit a few snags, but the project....slog"
    – James K
    Feb 8, 2021 at 19:31
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    @JamesK I would never say "the project slogged" ; people slog through the project.
    – stangdon
    Feb 9, 2021 at 15:35

Struggling along.

While one of the nice parts of English is how it has many words that mean roughly the same thing (as is demonstrated by the other answers to this question), the phrase that come to mind to me as a native English speaker is "struggling along".

While "forge ahead" implies a strong and swift forward motion that accomplishes a good deal of progress, "struggling along" implies that they are significantly hindered by the obstacles and struggles, but are still continuing to work their way forward. I think tit's probably the closest thing to an antonym that you'd find. An example to give an idea of its meaning might be "Despite making no money this quarter, the project continues struggling along."

  • The project is struggling along.
    – Lambie
    Feb 8, 2021 at 14:31
  • I've seen "struggle on" used as well. The "on" has a connotation that some progress is being made, but the whole phrase indicates that there's not a lot, and it's taking a heck of a lot of effort.
    – JonathanZ
    Feb 10, 2021 at 6:34

Plow ahead (also spelt 'plough') might be what you're looking for. It's defined by the Longman Dictionary as 'to continue to do something in spite of opposition or difficulties'.

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    plow ahead does not imply difficulty.....
    – Lambie
    Feb 8, 2021 at 14:30
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    @Lambie I would argue with that: how many minutes would you last plowing without additional machine- or animal-supplied power?
    – Levente
    Feb 8, 2021 at 14:51
  • McMillan: "to continue to do something that may involve problems or that other people are opposing". So the activity itself may not be difficult. But difficulties may arise later (still from McMillan): "Their decision to plow ahead before safety checks...". Plowing ahead made it easier, but explosions are a difficulty. Feb 8, 2021 at 22:31
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    @Levente To be clear, a native speaker wouldn't use "plow ahead" to mean something will take longer or be more expensive, or be directly more difficult. It's the wrong phrase. Feb 9, 2021 at 20:07
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    To me (native BrE), "plough ahead" has negative connotations: it implies that one is ignoring things that should slow you down (warnings, valid objections, etc.), and you're going ahead regardless, either not noticing or not caring that this is likely to result in a bad outcome. Feb 10, 2021 at 17:42

These words/phrases probably won't fit into your sentences like a puzzle piece, so you might have to rephrase them.


to continue to exist past the usual time, or to continue to do something in a determined way even when facing difficulties or opposition

Persist with (something)

To continue with some pursuit or activity with steadfast or obstinate tenacity.

Peña Nieto has promised that his administration will not persist with the failed policies of the Calderón era ... (Huffington Post)
Poland, Hungary leaders persist with anti-migrant policies. (Toronto Star)

Press on/ahead

to start or continue doing something in a determined way, often despite problems

The government is pressing ahead with its plans to reorganize the penal system.

Plow on

to continue doing something although it is difficult or boring

It would be a mistake to plow on with this plan - it will never work.

Stay the course

to continue with a process, effort, etc., even though it is difficult

... the federal government is staying the course on its vaccine distribution plan ... (CBC News)

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    I'm not sure how helpful it is to just give a list of words and say that the OP may have to rephrase to make them work. It would be more helpful to should show how a word fits into the requested context, and indicate which one you think is the best fit. Otherwise, this reads like you're trying to win a quiz show instead of trying to answer the question.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 8, 2021 at 18:16
  • @ColleenV Hello! You are right - it might be more helpful to show how certain words/phrases would fit in given sentences. However, that would have required a bit more work on my part than I was willing to put in when I wrote it. My intention was never to provide a word that fits those sentences exactly the way they are - other answers have already done that job. I wanted to provide words/phrases that perfectly fit the context, that have the desired meaning, and that are commonly used for such cases (i.e., when talking about governments, politicians, reforms, policies, programs, etc.).
    – AIQ
    Feb 9, 2021 at 2:07
  • @ColleenV This is helpful too, because when you are writing a paper (say for political science, economics, etc.), it is much better to use relevant terms than something that is usually not used in the field/context. I also provided example sentences that are quite relevant, citing authoritative sources. ColleenV, I am surprised that, of all people here, you would think I am trying to win something here. Win what? Fake internet points? This is disappointing; I can expect this from people who have never had a conversation with me, but you have known me for quite sometime.
    – AIQ
    Feb 9, 2021 at 2:07
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    I didn’t express it very well, so you’ve misunderstood what I was trying to say, but you’ve admitted that what I think is bad about this answer was intentional, so there’s not much point in me trying to express it better. If you don’t want to put the effort in, that’s your prerogative. We’re all volunteers here.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 9, 2021 at 2:44

"Trudging on" is an option.

I think that the literal meaning of trudging is continuing to walk forward despite difficult conditions, but I suppose it could also be used metaphorically.


"... step-by-step"

Since the autocrat's ouster, the reforms in the country are proceeding step-by-step, and the reaction sentiment is getting stronger.

The sense of "forge ahead" is to sudden strong progress. Step-by-step or little-by-little gives the opposite sense of gradual but continuous progress.

If you want to suggest that the progress is not consistent (but things are at least not going backwards) you could use the adverb "haltingly"

...reforms are proceeding haltingly...

This has more negative sense so "are only proceeding haltingly, but the reaction sentiment is growing stronger" is possible to indicate the contrast.

You could also speak, figuratively, about "trudging forward"

We've hit a few snags, but the project is (at last) trudging forward.



continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success.

While it doesn't meet your initial question, it feels like the right term.

  • Is it possible to use this without a person as a subject?
    – mdewey
    Feb 8, 2021 at 15:07
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    @mdewey Unfortunately, I don't think so. It would require some rephrasing: 'We hit a few snags, but are persevering'. Feb 8, 2021 at 15:42

Chiefly British English, but widely understood is the expression "soldier-on".

Soldier On

to continue doing something although it is difficult:

I admired the way she soldiered on when her business ran into trouble.


For your first example

Since the autocrat's ouster, the reforms in the country are [verb]ing ahead [along?], and the reaction sentiment is getting stronger.

I would suggest

Since the autocrat was ousted, the reforms in the country are labouring along, and the feelings of reaction are getting stronger.

Note I have made a few other changes which make it seem more natural to me. The verb to labour means to move with difficulty, you labour under a load for instance.

For your second example

We hit a few snags, but the project is [verb]ing ahead.

I would suggest that you need something different as it seems that having hit the snags it is now, by contrast, moving more smoothly. It would be OK to write

We hit a few snags, and the project is labouring along.

where I replaced the but with an and.


This makes me think of an idiom: to work one's way through

to move oneself into or out of a particular position slowly or with difficulty; sometimes used figuratively:

  • She is slowly working her way to the top of the company. (M-W)

So you could say:

Since the autocrat's ouster, the reforms in the country are making their way through, and the reaction sentiment is getting stronger.

You might be looking however for something less wordy. There is also hammer away:

Continue in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition (WordHippo)

For your second sentence I think push ahead might be better. It means:

to continue with an activity in a determined or enthusiastic way, especially when it is difficult or makes you feel tired (Cambridge)

We hit a few snags, but the project is pushing ahead.

  • In the first sentence, difficulty, not progress, should have been stressed Mar 25, 2021 at 2:09

In both examples, it's proceeding with difficulty. The difference is the first sentence stresses difficulty (the reforms are slow, people get disillusioned), the second proceeding (it's coming to fruition nonetheless, everything's fine).

In the first instance, I suggest 'stall'. It stresses difficulty to the extreme point where no progress is made at all, but it seems to fit. You can soften it a bit by using Present Continuous.

Since the autocrat's ouster, the reforms in the country are stalling, and the reaction sentiment is getting stronger.

In the second instance, I propose 'plow on/ahead' which is defined by Lexico as "continue steadily despite difficulties or warnings to stop". Another option is 'push ahead', though it doesn't underscore difficulty as well.

We hit a few snags, but the project is plowing ahead.

We hit a few snags, but the project is pushing ahead.



Through this difficult time, we are enduring new procedures for sanitation and cleaning in hopes to reduce spread of the virus.


Go through

undergo a difficult period or experience. "the country is going through a period of economic instability"

Get through

pass a difficult or testing experience or period. "he just did what was needed to get through"

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