Is there a noun for the act of striving?

Many English verbs use the same word for the infinitive (e.g. to fall) and for the act of performing that action (e.g. a fall), but I haven't found whether strive can be used as the act of striving. Is there a synonym that could work?

  • 2
    You're confusing action and event. A fall is a punctual non-volitional event involving the action of falling; strive, on the other hand, is a durative volitional verb, and thus does not form punctual event nominalizations. There are a lot more different kinds of verbs than one might imagine. Aug 18, 2013 at 17:24
  • 6
    In this case, just use the gerund - his striving was in vain simply means his act[s] of striving achieved nothing. Aug 18, 2013 at 17:24
  • @JohnLawler I don't see how I confused action with event. I didn't say a fall is an action I said it's an act, the act of falling, being a fall the act and falling the action. I understand though what you mean about punctual and non-volitional vs. durative and volitional. So this noun forms only come with punctual verbs and not with durative ones? What about one of the examples given in an answer (to endeavour, an endeavour)? Should we consider it a punctual verb (i.e. making a punctual effort)? Disclaimer: I really don't mean to create discord, I just want to understand it well. Aug 21, 2013 at 19:24
  • Act has a specific meaning in semantics. It requires a volitional subject, usually human; i.e, it's on purpose. Falling is not an act; it's a (usually temporary) state. Events include acts, but not the other way around; events are any occurrence in time, volitional or accidental. And I don't understand what you mean by "this noun forms", so I can't comment on it. Aug 21, 2013 at 20:01

4 Answers 4


Consider endeavor

[mass noun] earnest, prolonged, and industrious effort: enthusiasm is a vital ingredient in all human endeavour


As John Lawler points out in his comment, verbs like strive and seek are different in character from verbs like find and yeild, albeit arguably somewhat subtly.

That said, you might try an attempt if you want one singular punctuated act, but that isn't quite the same as striving, which is a more continuous thing.

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


I like the term industry

M-w.com offers the following definitions:

  1. : diligence in an employment or pursuit; especially : steady or habitual effort

2a : systematic labor especially for some useful purpose or the creation of something of value


I would say strife is another option.

  • But strife sounds more like a conflict of some sort.
    – tchrist
    Aug 18, 2013 at 18:45
  • 3
    In Shakespearian times, you would have been right. That meaning is now archaic and not in current use. I would say that "strife" describes a state (that is, a condition), not an act. Also, "strife" has a negative connotation in modern usage, where "strive" generally has a positive one.
    – itsbruce
    Aug 18, 2013 at 19:50

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