Burn the midnight oil


      • Working late into the night
        To describe someone who is putting in long hours or staying up late to complete a task or project.

      • Diligence and hard work
        To convey the idea of someone who is dedicated and focused on their work, often at the expense of their own rest and relaxation.

    Examples of Burn the midnight oil

    • John stayed up late last night, burning the midnight oil to finish his project before the deadline.

      This idiom refers to working late into the night, often by the light of a lamp or oil lamp (hence "burning the midnight oil"). It implies that the person is working hard and sacrificing sleep to meet a deadline or complete a task.

    • Sarah's parents used to say that she burned the midnight oil in high school, studying for hours on end to achieve straight A's.

      Here, the idiom is used to describe someone's dedication and hard work, particularly in an academic context.

    • The CEO of the company admitted that he burned the midnight oil for months, working tirelessly to turn the company around.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe someone's efforts to overcome a difficult situation or challenge.

    • After the wedding, the newlyweds burned the midnight oil, packing their bags and getting ready for their honeymoon.

      In this example, the idiom is used metaphorically to describe a busy or productive period of time, rather than literal late-night work.

    • The writer burned the midnight oil for weeks, pouring over research and notes to complete her latest book.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe someone's intense focus and commitment to a creative or intellectual pursuit.


    The idiom "burn the midnight oil" is commonly used to describe the act of working late into the night. This can be in a literal sense, where someone is physically burning a lamp or candle to continue working after dark, or in a figurative sense, where someone is putting in extra hours to complete a task or project.

    In addition, the idiom can also convey the idea of diligence and hard work. It implies that the person is willing to put in the extra effort and sacrifice their own rest and relaxation in order to achieve their goals. It can also be used to praise someone's dedication and work ethic.

    Origin of "Burn the midnight oil"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used to burn olive oil in lamps to light their homes. As olive oil was a valuable and expensive commodity, it was often saved for important occasions or emergencies. Therefore, burning the "midnight oil" was a symbol of dedication and hard work.

    The phrase was later popularized in the 17th century by the English poet Edward Young in his poem "Night Thoughts." He wrote, "We turn to dust, and all our mightiest works / Die too ... the midnight oil will waste us." This line was often interpreted as a reminder to make the most of our time and work diligently before it's too late.

    Over time, the idiom "burn the midnight oil" has become a common expression in the English language, used to describe someone who is working hard and putting in long hours. It has also been adapted into different languages with similar meanings, showing the enduring relevance of this phrase in our modern lives.