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From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Ex·ert v. t. [imp. & p. p. Exerted; p. pr. & vb. n. Exerting.]
 1. To thrust forth; to emit; to push out. [Obs.]
 So from the seas exerts his radiant head
 The star by whom the lights of heaven are led.   --Dryden.
 2. To put force, ability, or anything of the nature of an active faculty; to put in vigorous action; to bring into active operation; as, to exert the strength of the body, limbs, faculties, or imagination; to exert the mind or the voice.
 3. To put forth, as the result or exercise of effort; to bring to bear; to do or perform.
    When we will has exerted an act of command on any faculty of the soul or member of the body.   --South.
 To exert one's self, to use efforts or endeavors; to strive; to make an attempt.