The Rockettes do leg work. MMA fighters do leg work. Kids with mad soccer skills do leg work. If you’re talking about research and preparation, your legs probably shouldn’t get as much of a shout-out as you seem to be giving them.
The idea of “legwork,” as a single word, dates back to the 1890s. It seems to have originated in reference to literal running around in preparation for a greater creative or mental pursuit, but today, your legs don’t have to be involved.
The etymology of “legwork” coming from “leg work” is pretty clear, but when to use one versus the other does not always seem to be. I know spacing can be tricky, but the reminder is simple:
If you’re not actually talking about your legs, don’t use the two-word form.
Now you know. I’ve done the legwork for you, making sure you have all the right information at your fingertips. If I did this research while also pedaling my under-the-desk bike, there might have also been some leg work involved, but alas, that wasn’t the case this time. I am still wishing that there was a time in my life that I ever had the soccer moves of that kid, though.
Happy writing, everyone!
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