Pull one’s weight

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Pull one’s weight is an idiom that came into use in the late 1800s. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase pull one’s weight, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To pull one’s weight means to do one’s fair share, to make an equal contribution, to work as hard as everyone else is working. The idiom pull one’s weight came into use in the latter 1800s from a rowing term. The sports of rowing, sculling, and crew involve teamwork between a number of participants as they sit in a boat and pull oars through the water. Each person is expected to pull his weight, or row just as hard as any other team member. The sport of rowing is said to have originated along the Thames in London in the 1700s. Related phrases are pulls one’s weight, pulled one’s weight, pulling one’s weight.


My father pulled his weight in the Boy Scout troop where I aspired to nothing and was drummed out after Bruce Koewing and I left early from an overnight camp-out without telling anyone. (The Shelter Island Reporter)

Pull your weight, and it doesn’t matter if everything is rigged in your favor or not. (The Indianapolis Monthly)

“We tell the guys all the time, yeah wrestling is fun and playing sports is great but if you can’t pull your weight in the classroom then you can’t be here pulling your weight on the mat.” (The New Haven Independent)

Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered: