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Concerted

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  • The participial adjective concerted is traditionally defined as planned or accomplished together. It comes from the noun concert, where concert refers to an agreement between two or more people, so something done concertedly involves the efforts of multiple people. The word is synonymous with coordinated, united, combined, collaborative, and joint. So, given the traditional sense of concerted, the common phrase concerted effort is illogical when referring to the effort of a single person, and it bears replacement in this and similar phrases with alternatives like determined, resolute, dogged, and steadfast.

    Still, people seem to love using the phrase concerted effort, so there is probably no point in trying to promote logical alternatives in this case.

    Example

    In each of these sentences, concerted effort is questionable because it applies to a single person or entity:

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    Rafael Cabrera, head of the operators’ union, said he hopes the next Muni chief will make a more concerted effort to communicate with frontline employees. [San Francisco Chronicle]

    Opec members failed to agree an official increase in production quotas despite a concerted effort by Saudi Arabia … to boost output. [Financial Times]

    But lately he’s been making a concerted effort to burnish his social conservative credentials. [NPR]

    And concerted is more logical in the following instances because it describes joint efforts:

    After a concerted effort by his fellow Democrats to push him out, Weiner finally decides to resign from Congress. [Salon]

    So we should probably make a concerted effort to help them arrive here in a nearly sane state. [Montreal Gazette]

    Differing opinions can be dismissed as trolls and there is a concerted effort to bring people into line. [New Zealand Herald]

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    Comments

    1. This baffles me, as the root of concerted is clearly concert, which in its original italian means to harmonize. How one could harmonize by themselves is beyond me.

      Ungh. Here’s another one that is slipping away from us. This baffles me, as the root of concerted is clearly concert, which in its original italian means to harmonize. How one could harmonize by themselves is beyond me. My dictionary defines concerted both in its traditional sense (as above) and as “strenuously carried out; done with great effort : it would take a concerted effort for a burglar to break into my home.”

    2. In a chemical sense, it means 100% efficiency. A concerted reaction has 100% product, 0% initial reactants.

    3. Ebenzer Son says:

      I want to add that the term “concerted effort” could also mean (try very hard to do something) the following is an example:
      – He made a concerted effort to win me away from my steady, sweet but boring boyfriend.
      You can comment about this usage.

      Thanks.

    4. dubyoski says:

      Perhaps, in some cases, a malapropism of “concentrated effort”?

    5. Dell Cousins says:

      I disagree that “concerted” is wrong when referring to the efforts of one person, as one might be referring to the resources (time, money, etc.) available to that one person.

    6. It seems to me that a single entity comprising multiple individuals who do not always work to the same ends can logically make a concerted effort. You label the example “a concerted effort by Saudi Arabia” as questionable, but Saudi Arabia as an entity has leaders who might work in opposition to each other, or might work in concert with each other. The quoted phrase would identify this instance as a case of the latter.

    7. disqus_3qOxZNolUz says:

      This one isn’t so tricky: “concerted” here is just short-hand for “concentrated.” A “concerted effort” means a “concentrated effort.” Concerted is preferred in this context because it’s faster, easier (with one fewer syllable) and smoother sounding. This is also evident in its pronunciation, which essentially mirrors that of “concentrated,” sans 1 syllable. This isn’t a misused word. It’s a reused word, and a pure Americanism.

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