Friday, August 19, 2011

Burn the Candle at both Ends & Burn the Midnight Oil - English Idioms

Burn the Candle at both Ends

“Mr. Murphy goes to college during the day and works in a restaurant at night. He doesn’t have rest at all. He’s burning the candle at both ends.
Meaning: to overwork yourself mentally or physically and until you’re exhausted.
Origin: This was a French expression that came into English in the late 1500s. If you really took a candle and burned it at both ends, it would be used up twice as fast. That image changed to refer to people who work hard night and day and use up all their strength. We also say that you can “burn yourself out” this way.

Burn the Midnight Oil

I have a crucial test tomorrow, so I have to burn the midnight oil.

Meaning: to stay up very late at night studying or working.
Origin: This saying goes back to the days when lamps were lighted by oil and people went tobed earlier than they do today. When you burned the midnight oil in those days, you were up late working or reading by the light of an oil lamp.

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