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What's the correct verb to say to forcefully do something you are not supposed to do or to attempt acts in the attitude of 'just go for it'? Here, "forcefully" does not necessarily mean physical force. E.g.

  • You push a pin into a plug, the plug does not fit, so you ____ and push it harder than you should, possibly deforming the pin in the process
  • There is a traffic jam ahead. You ____ and switch to a different lane to continue the journey. There is enough space, but the markings on the road say you cannot switch lanes there.
  • Someone asks you to perform a difficult piece at a concert. You promise to perform despite being well aware that the piece is beyond your ability and you're ____-ing, hoping that perhaps you have practiced hard enough and the audience will not notice.

The important elements in those examples are:

  1. You are well aware that the act is against the odds
  2. You are well aware you are not supposed to act like that (i.e. an alternative solution with a lower risk exists, but it's likely more complicated and you're lazy)

Note that the outcome of the attempt is uncertain. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail.

For those who know Cantonese, it's "格硬黎".


Thanks everyone for their suggestions. Unfortunately I cannot give credit to multiple answers, but many of them are good:

  • force
  • brute-force
  • put a square peg into a round hole
  • just fake it
  • brash

Improvise doesn't really fit - the action may be well planned but still against the odds.

  • Single-word-request? Phrase? Idiom or formal? – user98990 Mar 27 '15 at 4:41
  • It's informal usage. Preferably single-word, but a short phrase which accurately expresses the idea would do a well. – kevin Mar 27 '15 at 4:45
  • From your examples ... that's a lot to ask of a SWR – user98990 Mar 27 '15 at 4:47

10 Answers 10

2

Since answers are spreading into other parts of speech, I would use brash or brashly to refer to the action or the way it was performed.

Here are a few definitions of the word, which all suggest an aggressive, somewhat reckless spirit.

Brash (adj.)

  1. impertinent; impudent; tactless: "a brash young man".

  2. hasty; rash; impetuous.

  3. energetic or highly spirited, especially in an irreverent way; zesty: "a brash new musical".

To use a couple of your examples:

  • There is a traffic jam ahead so you brashly switch lanes, crossing double yellow lines, to continue the journey.
  • You are well aware that the piece is beyond your ability and you're brashly hoping that perhaps you have practiced hard enough and the audience will not observe this.
3

"You cannot just do whatever you want. You must obey the rules".

or,

"You cannot just throw caution to the wind.

or,

"We couldn't find any player for the concert, so he just improvised.

3

Perhaps:

To act in a devil-may-care manner.

a very casual attitude; a worry free or carefree attitude

To act in a like a bull in a china shop

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - Page 181 2008 - like a bull in a china shop If someone is like a bull in a china shop, they are very careless in the way that they move or behave

More:

go for broke

letting it fly

reckless

taking a chance

try to crash through the soup

shoot the works

hazard all

plunge

take a flier

(both of finance) speculate, sell short

go out on a limb

play fast and loose

stick one's neck out

take a shot (or stab) in the dark

tempt fate (or fortune)

trust to chance

  • 1
    Nice list of idioms. You mean that they are all interchangeable ? Do they all fit OP request? Or are there expressions in the list which may better express the concept OP wants to convey? – user66974 Mar 27 '15 at 7:48
3

Isn't the verb force enough?

  • You forced a pin into the plug and deformed it in the process
  • There is a traffic jam ahead. You forced your way to a different lane to continue the journey. There is enough space, but the markings on the road say you cannot switch lanes there.
  • Someone asks you to perform a difficult piece at a concert. You forced yourself to perform despite being well aware that the piece is beyond your ability, hoping that perhaps you have practiced hard enough and the audience will not observe this
  • You cannot force it. You must obey the rules.

  • We couldn't find any player for the concert, so he just forced himself to do it.

  • force is good, however it does not convey the idea that there is another solution which you're supposed to follow – kevin Mar 27 '15 at 17:16
3

It sounds like you're talking about brute force. A steamroller might convey the appropriate imagery.

He is like a steamroller; nothing will stop him from getting work done.

Someone who acts carelessly this way may do so with reckless abandon.

  • +1 The Steelers have played sloppily in the last three weeks, and they are not the team that steamrolled through the regular season in '04. oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/steamroll -- Substantiate the suggestion to make it a valid answer. – Kris Mar 27 '15 at 7:05
2

Sounds like you mean to "buck the system" in one word might be to "defy" as in against the odds she defied the norm ...

2

You cannot:

  • fit a round peg in a square hole.

  • ride the shoulder.

  • just fake it.


You cannot flippantly yield yourself to your own devices. You must obey the rules.

  • So he just winged it.

I believe this is the attitude you're looking for:

With all these edits I'm just going to have to throw in the towel and say fuck it, just use/do whatever you fucking want. -I hope that didn't rub you the wrong way. I'm not trying to go against the grain here.

  • I think we all know what to call the second example ;) – Mazura Mar 27 '15 at 4:53
  • Creative problem-solving? Anarchy? Wha? – user98990 Mar 27 '15 at 4:56
  • @LittleEva See, here. GEOCHET's answer was much funnier before they changed their bio. – Mazura Mar 27 '15 at 5:04
  • 1
    Yeah, the whole thread was amusing – user98990 Mar 27 '15 at 5:15
  • Oops! I hadn't seen your "wing it" suggestion, you should probably place it in bold. – Mari-Lou A Mar 27 '15 at 5:35
0

Crossing an unbroken (continuous/solid) white line in order to avoid a traffic jam is illegal, so you're breaking the law.

By switching to a different lane, I was technically breaking the law.

Admittedly the phrase break the law sounds too close to being a ‘criminal’ act, so a motorist might say

I had to bend the rules and change lane.

bend the rules: (informal) to ignore rules or change them to suit one's own convenience

-1

To wing it.

Especially for your last example (the concert).

Are you ready for the concert tonight? Nah, I'm just going to wing it.

I would use it for the second and third examples, but not the first. They describe different base scenarios to me. For the first example, I would probably say:

(You can't) force it.

-1

If you try to go beyond the normal limits of something, you push the envelope. For example, you can push the envelope on rules or you can push the envelop of improvisation.

  • he began pushing the envelope on rules and he was expelled

  • a musician who pushes the envelope of improvisation

More details and the first usage of the phrase from OED:

orig. Aeronaut. to push the envelope and variants: to approach or go beyond the current limits of performance (see envelope n. Additions); to exceed or extend the boundaries of what is considered possible or permissible; to pioneer or innovate.
Popularized in U.S. author Tom Wolfe's 1979 book about the space programme The Right Stuff.

  • 1979    T. Wolfe Right Stuff (1980) i. 8   One of the phrases that kept running through the conversation was ‘pushing the outside of the envelope’... [That] seemed to be the great challenge and satisfaction of flight test.

  • 2002    Time 28 Jan. 21/2   Andersen..worked overtime to show that..it was merely trying to serve a secretive and aggressive client who was pushing the envelope on accounting rules that aren't very clear anyway.

[OED]

More examples:

I am blessed because I have been exposed to so many people who have pushed the envelope and broken more than a convention or two.

"Breaking the Rules: Home Style for the Way We Live Today" By Christy Ferer, Risa Palazzo


If you were rebellious and broke your parent's rules, you will be confronted with enforcing rules with your child. You may need to enforce rules that you yourself broke. If you were a child who pushed the envelope, who liked to experiment, who even broke certain rules, then your past behavior will surface while providing guidelines for your child.

"The Gift of Motherhood: 10 Truths for Every Mother" By Cherie Carter-Scott


Another option is to push your luck. You are against the odds because you are risking it; but you just go for it.

( also push it) › to try too hard to get a particular result and risk losing what you have achieved Cambridge

Example:

I pushed my luck by switching the lanes to pass the cars where passing is not allowed.

Another example from the book Sarah's Child By Paul England:

I was in no fit state to drive to the hospital. I'd pushed my luck far enough driving home from the pub but it was a Tuesday and the pub wasn't far.

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