Burn the candle at both ends


      • overexert oneself
        To work or play excessively, often to the point of exhaustion, by trying to do too many things at once or for an extended period of time.

      • waste energy or resources
        To use up resources or energy at an unsustainable pace, leading to eventual burnout or failure.

      • live recklessly
        To engage in risky or self-destructive behavior, often in pursuit of immediate pleasure or gratification, without regard for long-term consequences.

    Examples of Burn the candle at both ends

    • She was burning the candle at both ends, working late nights and waking up early to attend meetings.

      This idiom means to overexert oneself by working excessively and not getting enough rest. The image of burning a candle at both ends represents using up resources quickly and without moderation. In this example, the person is working late into the night and then waking up early, effectively burning the candle at both ends by not getting enough sleep.


    "Burn the candle at both ends" is an idiom that is used to describe someone who is pushing themselves too hard, either physically or mentally. It can refer to overworking, wasting energy, or living recklessly, and it often implies that the person is not taking care of themselves properly. This idiom can be used to caution someone against overexerting themselves or to criticize someone for their reckless behavior.

    In addition to its literal meaning, "burning the candle at both ends" can also be used figuratively to describe a situation where someone is trying to do too much or juggle too many responsibilities at once. This can result in fatigue, stress, and ultimately, burnout. The idiom is often used in a negative connotation, emphasizing the need for balance and self-care.

    Origin of "Burn the candle at both ends"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the 18th century, when candles were the primary source of light in homes. Burning a candle at both ends meant that it was lit at both the top and the bottom, resulting in the candle burning twice as fast and therefore, not lasting as long. This metaphor was then used to describe someone who was living life at an unsustainable pace, using up their energy and resources too quickly.

    The phrase was first recorded in a poem by the English poet and playwright, Edmond Waller, in 1678. However, it wasn't until the 19th century that it became a popular idiom, appearing in various literary works and eventually making its way into everyday language. Today, "burning the candle at both ends" is a common idiom used to caution against overexertion and promote the importance of balance and self-care.