Let’s look at the differences between exercise and exorcise with Grammar Rules from the Writer’s Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

This week’s grammar rules post will exercise our lexical prowess while also exorcising (perhaps) any misconceptions about how to use exercise and exorcise. One word is often used in connection with physical fitness and practice, while the other refers to casting out bad spirits.

(3 Tips for Writing Possession Horror.)

So let’s look at the differences between exercise and exorcise and when to use each.

Exercise vs. Exorcise

Exercise can be used as a noun or verb in a variety of ways. As a noun, exercise can refer to physical fitness, but it can also refer to other acts and activities (including academic or military exercises). As a verb, exercise is a synonym for use and exert, and also means to train and/or put through exercises (including, but not limited to, physical fitness exercises).

(8 Ways to Stay Mentally Fit and Mindful in the Writing Process.)

Exorcise is a verb that means to expel or rid one of an evil spirit or something that is problematic in an oppressive way.

Make sense?

Here are a few examples of exercise and exorcise:

Correct: She always feels better after a bit of exercise in the morning.
Incorrect: She always feels better after a bit of exorcise in the morning.

Correct: He needed to exorcise his demons before he could focus on work.
Incorrect: He needed to exercise his demons before he could focus on work.

While exercise can mean more than physical fitness, I do think about the second “e” in exercise as “energy” to complete an activity. Meanwhile, the “o” in exorcise conjures up the word “out,” as in casting out an evil spirit or bad habit.


No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

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