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全力以赴 (quán​lì​yǐ​fù​)
CC-CEDICT: to do at all costs / to make an all-out effort

Breaking apart this chengyu, we find:

  • 全力: "with all one's strength / full strength / all-out (effort) / fully (support)"
  • : "to use / by means of / according to / in order to / because of / at (a certain date or place)"
  • : "to go / to visit (e.g. another country) / to attend (a banquet etc)"

In particular, 赴 seems out of place here: it doesn't seem related to "making an all-out effort". I don't see any logic here.

Question: What is the purpose of 赴 within 全力以赴?

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  • It is like 'go' in 'go all out.' – Tang Ho May 3 at 1:03
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  1. This involves inversion (倒裝) in classical Chinese. The most sensible arrangement in modern Chinese is

    以全力赴(之)

    To go towards / approach (sth.) with all one's might,

    which obviously suggests the meaning 'trying one's best in doing something'. The grammatical object is the target but is omitted (perhaps understood) in the idiom.

  2. While is transitive, 全力以赴 has more or less become intransitive (see the following example) because it is idiomatic to consider it as a whole that describes a state of being, rather than an approach towards the problem (the object) when we parse the idiom.

    我會全力以赴的。 I will try my best.

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I recommend 多功能成语词典 which is available as a (not free) add on to Pleco. It gives this explanation for 全力以赴:

解释 赴:往,前往。指将全部力量都投入到某事中。

This makes it clear that 赴 in 全力以赴 carries the idea of movement / signifies "to go".

(I think L Parker's answer is the best so far, but hopefully this comment still is worth putting up as an answer as it has a little complementary information.)

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  • 奔赴、全力以赴、前赴後繼 etc. all use the sense “to go (forth)” in them. 赴宴 (to go forth -> attend a banquet)、赴美 (to go forth -> visit the US) use rather derived senses (they are also more written than spoken), which I would consider as less important “definitions” of the fairly classical verb 赴. So it’s good to clarify that. 👍 – L Parker May 3 at 14:17
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Looking for logic in language? Likely an long look!

Why is it called 赴 fù when it is composed of zǒu and bo or bǔ?

zdic.net has this for 赴:

1 往,去

2 投入(某种境地),参加(某种行列):赴战。赴敌(加入对敌作战)。赴难(nàn )。赴义。

全力以赴:throw oneself into the fray with all ones might

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