I am looking for a word that describes "having the strength to do the right thing" or "putting in hard work now to produce a virtuous result in the future" or "putting in hard work upfront to make things easier in the long run." This concept can be viewed from a moral standpoint (e.g. punishments while raising children, resisting temptation), or an effort standpoint (e.g. studying at the beginning of a semester, building a machine to automate a process). I would be happy to find a word that fits either standpoint.

Edit: Still looking for single words that fit the above, but thank you to Edwin who suggested "Strength of Will", which I believe fits the concept nicely.

Edit: Thank you to Ottie for suggesting "Fortitude", which comes very close.

  • Paying your dues? Eating your vegetables? Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 1:42
  • I see how the phrase "do the right thing" is related to "a virtuous result" ("right" can mean "virtuous") but not how it's related to making "things easier in the long run" ("right" doesn't mean "easier"). Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 2:49
  • 1
    Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 3:27
  • I see no reason for this to question to have been downvoted. The underlying notion is clearly explained in sufficient detail and generality to attract an answer, if one exists. To treat a thoughtful newcomer to the site in such an offhand and unexplained way is especially vexing to see. I have compensated.
    – Anton
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 7:09
  • I can't come up with a single word that means "work now, play later" but if you can please confirm whether the phrase expresses your request?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


Another word that has partial overlap with your question (which I think combines too many disparate concepts to really have a single word answer) is fortitude, a synonym of strength with an implication of righteousness, courage and moral (as opposed to physical) effort.

Merriam Webster

1: strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage

Acting with fortitude is likely to be guided by the intention to do something difficult but eventually worthwhile.

  • 1
    Slightly more targeted is intestinal fortitude
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 9:48
  • It's not a single word, but 'moral fibre' would seem to come close to your requirement. Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 11:41
  • Ottie, thank you for the contribution. While Fortitude does not completely cover the premeditation aspect of my concept, it does cover dealing with hardship in the moment.
    – E-Rock
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 0:20

Gumptious, an uncommon adj. meaning having gumption.

shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness. "she had the gumption to put her foot down and head Dan off from those crazy schemes".

Oxford Languages: gumption

Listed as informal?? I never thought of it as such.

1719, originally Scottish, "common sense, shrewdness, acuteness of practical understanding," also "drive, initiative," possibly connected with Middle English gome "attention, heed," from Old Norse gaumr "heed, attention." Sense of "initiative" is first recorded 1812. Related: Gumptious (adj.), attested from 1823.

Etymology Online: gumption


Although of French origin and only partly fitting your prescription (it lacks the overtones of strength and effort), Merriam Webster provides a relevant word that is focused on the anticipation of others’ rather than one’s own needs:

Merriam Webster
attentiveness to or anticipation of others' needs or an instance of such anticipation

  • As I expected, a mute downvoter has presumably pointed out imperfections in this answer - imperfections to which I have already drawn attention in my effort to inform the questioner. As a service to the questioner, would they now explain their extra objections?
    – Anton
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 12:35

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