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Recently I started reading a novel that I was excited to read. After getting approximately 45% into it, I lost the pace. It started becoming slow and lousy.

I thought to leave it unfinished but it was from one of my favorite writer (Paulo), so why not just complete it just to meet the finish line?

Sometimes we complete work just because we have started it, regardless of its interest. Is there a word or phrase for this situation?

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  • 3
    opinio juris sive necessitatis - A Latin usage – Renae Lider Dec 16 '14 at 3:03
  • I can't think of a single-word name for this. As the below answers show, it's easier to find a word for the action of completing it, rather than a word for the object that needs completion. – 4444 Dec 16 '14 at 22:27
  • I would use the word "dogged" or "doggedness" for this situation. – Joe DeRose Dec 17 '14 at 13:35
  • You might call yourself a completionist if this is something that you do in all walks of life, rather than just for this one book. – TylerH Dec 17 '14 at 14:57
  • So you're laboring over the book? Drudging through it, dragging your feet really. Soldiering on? Weathering the storm? – Vinayak Dec 17 '14 at 15:25

18 Answers 18

36

The expression :

Finished for the sake of finishing, may express the idea you want to convey.

  • For the sake of something: (from www.macmillandictionary.com)
    • for the purpose of doing, getting, or achieving something
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27

In economics, the sunk cost fallacy is used to describe the tendency to keep investing in something because you've already invested in it, because you feel that to stop investing in it would make your previous investments a waste. This is usually used in terms of money (for example, a manager buys a computer system that doesn't work well, but keeps using it because he thinks that if he doesn't use it, the money he paid for it will be wasted), but it can also be referred to in terms of time, as in your example: You've already spent time reading 45% of the book, so you might feel that to stop reading it now would make the time you already spent reading it a waste. Of course, this is a fallacy because the manager has spent his money whether he keeps using the computer system or not, and you have already spent your time whether you finish reading the book or not.

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    This is an interesting answer, but it doesn't actually answer the question. – Nick2253 Dec 15 '14 at 15:45
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    Yes, it does. The question was asking for a term for the phenomenon of finishing something after losing interest just for the sake of finishing it. Sunk cost fallacy can be used to describe the situation of finishing something just because you started it and don't want the time you put into it to be a waste. – Nicole Dec 15 '14 at 15:48
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    The question is not about avoiding waste, which would be the clear application of the sunk cost fallacy, but rather about completing something for the sake of completing it. – Nick2253 Dec 15 '14 at 15:56
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    I'd say this answer gives a term for one specific form of the phenomenon described in the question. In some situations, it may not quite be the right term, but in others it is useful and appropriate. +1 – Curtis H. Dec 15 '14 at 20:06
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    This would be correct if one assumes there isn't a benefit to having finished it, at least not enough benefit to justify the further cost of completion. The question doesn't say there is, indeed it says "just because we started it", so I see no problem with answering on this basis. I still get the impression the questioner feels there is (or might be) some benefit of "meeting the finish line" even though the novel isn't enjoyable. For example, he can say in future, "I've read all of Paulo's works", and know their content, even if in this case he only did so for the sake of completeness. – Steve Jessop Dec 18 '14 at 12:36
18

A slog?

to keep doing something even though it is difficult or boring

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slog

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  • The phrase "slogged through" is what came to my mind. – Darrick Herwehe Dec 17 '14 at 13:33
14

You could say that you feel obligated to finish the book.

This could be due to a desire not to waste the money spent on the book, or to avoid disrespecting the author, or any number of things. If you wanted to reach the end just to see what happens, you would be looking for closure.

e.g.

Because the book was so expensive, I felt obligated to complete it.

Because I wanted closure, I felt obligated to complete it.

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14

Completionism is how this is described in the video-gaming community. If a game has collectables and sidequests, a completionist will feel the urge to collect every item and complete every quest. It's done to earn the 100%.

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    Completionist was exactly the word that sprung to my mind given the question parameters. – starsplusplus Dec 16 '14 at 13:13
11

I would use the word "persevere" or "perseverance" in this case.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/persevere

1. to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

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9

If you are speaking about the action of completing something you don't really feel inclined to do, you can use the phrase "push through".

I lost interest in the book but I like the author so I pushed through and finished it.

I know that this extra work is boring but please push through and finish it.

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7

A grind

Hard dull work; Produce something dull or tedious slowly and laboriously.

This project is such a grind

Although not specifically stated, it implies something boring which must be completed.

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  • I'd go with the version grinding it out. – lincolnk Dec 18 '14 at 20:53
7

When you decide to continue a task until completion, you decided to see it through.

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6

Stickwithitness is a delightful, if somewhat uncommon, neologism that fits this description.

Two examples from the wild:

Stickwithitness!
It’s hard keeping a blog. Isn’t it?

source

Buying a Los Angeles Home Requires Stickwithitness

source

Note that the phrase “stick with it” apparently was not used, at least per published books, until 1964.

graph showing the phrase “stick with it” becoming popular between 1964 and 1980, becoming uncool in the 1908s, and then rebounding to 1970s levels in the 90s, where it approximately remained through the end of the graph (2008)

Compared with “Stick with it,” the exhortation “Hang in there” has similar, but distinct meaning. The latter is also more popular. However, note that Google only has 4 results, as of today, for the non-word “hanginthereness.” (Two words are actually individually quoted, in acknowledgement of their non-existence.) I would postulate that this lack of parallelism with “stick with it” is because “hanging in there” requires little action — merely the maintenance of hope; however, sticking with it requires continue action in the face of discouragement.

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    That's a new one to me. I always heard it as "stick-to-it-iveness". – ErikE Dec 16 '14 at 1:06
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If you do something just because you have to do it, the adjective "perfunctory" can be used to describe the verb. But it doesn't fit neatly into your specific example, you'd have to say "I finished it, but in a perfunctory way" or "I gave the rest of the book a perfunctory reading" or similar.

https://www.google.com.au/#q=define:perfunctory

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2

Sounds like you are just 'going through the motions'.

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    Welcome to English Language & Usage. Your post would be improved if it included a reference and an explanation of why it answers the question. See the help center to learn more about how to write a strong answer. – andy256 Dec 16 '14 at 4:24
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A completist Feels compelled to finish a collection or series. Since the book is by a favorite author and that provides motivation to persevere, it could be called completism. Definition

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1

You could say that you finished (or read) the book for posterity's sake.

The word posterity means future generations. So saying you are doing something for posterity's sake means that you are doing something, usually clarifying, on behalf of future generations. The phrase is often used to describe the act of finishing something for the sake of finishing it.

Saying that you read the book for posterity's sake, also implies that you may have read the book for the purpose of understanding future publications (either by the same author, or that are in reference to it).

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    I've been known to call it "for posterior's sake"/ – Hot Licks Dec 16 '14 at 1:28
0

This remind me of the impression when I struggled through "What is the life?: Physical aspect of the living cell" by Erwin Schrodinger. We call the continuation of action without any more interest, but because of habit or previous efforts "惰性的に...する (do job, read, speak, run on inertia, or on inertia force)" in Japanese. I wonder the concept of inertia can apply to this case.

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0

All answers well praised for from my side. Thank you.

The well shaped answer I have come across is Commitment. An unspoken commitment plagued in subconscious mind. This happens often, we decide in our mind what have to do how long we have to continue doing it. They are Commitments and nothing else. 'The sake of finishing' is also due to these silent commitments.

so... Commitment is my answer.

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This is not a single word but an idiom.

drag your feet/heels as in:

The government promised to provide universal health care, but now it's dragging its feet over the issue.

We expected the company to drag its heels when it came to paying compensation to the injured workers, but now it doesn't want to pay anything!

Examples from EnglishClub. The definition is:

Cambridge: to do something slowly because you do not want to do it
Merriam Webster: failure to do something quickly because you do not want to do it

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OCD

This suggestion is not facetious. One of the symptoms of this disorder is to continue activities long after the usefulness is gone. Reading (and/or re-reading) a useless book may fall into this symptomatic illness.

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