Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: burn

Type: Article

If idioms have you burning the midnight oil, look no further – Tim Bowen’s here to help.

‘Some of the people parading through the West End of London in expensive sports cars clearly have money to burn.’ This expression is used to indicate that you think someone is wasting their money on something expensive that they do not need.

If money is burning a hole in your pocket, you can hardly wait to spend it, as in ‘He’s just won £300 on the horses and it’s burning a hole in his pocket’.

If your ears are burning, you have the feeling that someone is talking about you even though you are not with them, as in ‘They’ve been gossiping about James for the last hour. His ears must be burning!’ 

People who work so hard that they do not get enough sleep because they go to bed late and get up early can be said to be burning the candle at both ends, and if you burn the midnight oil, you work until very late at night, as in ‘She’s got her exam next week and she’s been burning the midnight oil revising for it’.

If you burn your bridges or burn your boats, you do something that makes it impossible to return to the situation that you were in before, as in ‘Complaining about the company in public was a bad move on his part. He won’t get his job back now. He’s burnt his bridges there’.

If you get burnt or get your fingers burnt, you have a bad experience when something such as a relationship or a business deal goes wrong, as in ‘I got my fingers burnt when I played around with the stock market. I won’t be doing that again’.

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