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When something is done just to keep up appearances and avoid trouble, we say:

‘Although he promised to do better, all we’ve seen is a token effort.’


The word ‘token’ has several interesting meanings. In everyday life, a token can be a coin used for a special purpose (such as washing your car at the car wash). When used as an adjective, however, it has a very different, negative meaning: instead of truly fulfilling a promise, someone does the very minimum that it takes to seemingly keep the promise (and avoid criticism). That’s called making a token effort.



I’m not interested in a token effort; either do it for real or forget about it!


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