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go through the motions

Meaning: You go through the motions when you do something without putting any real effort or thought into it.

For example:

  • They've told Jamal that he has to leave his job at the end of the month, so he's just going through the motions until then.

  • Our team was so far behind that for the last few minutes of the game it looked like they were just going through the motions.

Quick Quiz:

The band were playing their songs, but they were just going through the motions because
  1. there was a huge crowd cheering them on
  2. millions of fans were watching them on TV
  3. they were doing a rehearsal to check the sound

Discuss: go through the motions

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