Burn your boats


      • discourage someone
        Advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit

      • Commit fully
        Emphasize the importance of commitment by referencing the historical significance of burning boats or bridges to show total dedication to a cause or mission

    Examples of Burn your boats

    • In order to fully commit to our new business venture, we decided to burn our boats and bridges. This means we quit our old jobs and ended all relationships with our former clients to avoid any distractions or temptations to go back to our old ways.

      The idiom "burn your boats/bridges" is used to describe a situation where someone takes an irrevocable action, making it impossible to retreat or change their mind. It's often used in a positive context, to show how committed someone is to a course of action. In this case, the phrase is used metaphorically since no actual boats or bridges were burned, but the idea of being fully committed and cutting all ties with the past is conveyed.

    • I know taking this job in a new city will be challenging, but I'm burning my bridges by quitting my current job and moving across the country. I'm committed to making this work.

      The speaker is using the idiom to emphasize how committed they are to their decision to move and start a new job. They are severing all ties with their current job and past life to fully focus on their new opportunities. This expression adds weight and conviction to their decision, indicating that they're not considering any other options.

    • In a high-stakes negotiation, our team burned our boats by refusing to make any concessions. It was a bold move, but it ultimately paid off when we secured a better deal than we initially thought possible.

      The idiom "burn your boats/bridges" is often employed in high-pressure situations to show how far someone is willing to go to obtain a desired outcome. The speaker is saying that their team was uncompromising in their negotiations, refusing to budge on any issues, which ultimately led to a successful outcome. The use of this saying adds a sense of drama and excitement, highlighting the risks and rewards of taking such a decisive action.

    • After years of trying to make a relationship work, I finally realized that it was time to burn our boats and let go. I couldn't continue investing time and energy into something that wasn't working anymore.

      The speaker is saying that they've exhausted all options for saving their relationship and have come to the difficult decision to end it permanently. This idiom is often used in romantic situations to show that someone has reached a point of no return, where they're willing to let go of something that may have once been important to them. It can be a difficult decision to make, but doing so allows the speaker to move forward and focus on other priorities in their life.

    • The army general ordered his troops to burn their boats, signaling that there was no turning back and they had to win the battle at all costs.

      This idiom refers to a military strategy where a commander destroys his own means of retreat as a way of motivating his troops to fight fiercely and without fear of retreat. Literally, burning boats or bridges means destroying any possible escape routes, leaving the soldiers with no other choice but to stand and fight. This phrase also encapsulates the idea of committing fully to a course of action, even if it may seem risky, and being willing to sacrifice everything for success.

    • After making a bold proposal to his boss, the sales executive decided to burn his bridges, namely his old job and connections in the company, to demonstrate his confidence and dedication to the new opportunity.

      In this example, "burning bridges" indicates severing all ties with the old job and relationships within the company in order to start afresh with the new opportunity. It can be seen as a metaphorical way of committing fully to the new opportunity and showing that one's allegiance and commitment lies only with the new opportunity.

    • In order to completely focus on her studies, the student decided to burn her boats and avoid all forms of distractions, such as social media and other non-academic pursuits.

      In this instance, "burning boats" represents removing any factors that could hinder or distract her from her academic pursuits. When one burns their boats, he or she is committing fully to a task at hand, leaving behind any distractions or obstacles that could potentially derail their efforts.

    • After investing all his savings in his new business venture, the entrepreneur decided to burn his boats and commit himself fully to the business, vowing not to look back until it became successful.

      In this last example, "burning boats" signifies that the entrepreneur has made a significant commitment, by investing his life savings in his new business venture. It is a bold step that indicates undivided focus and dedication to the business's success, as withdrawing his investment is no longer an option. In this context, burning the boats is equivalent to putting all the chips on the table in a casino, signifying a high-risk, high-reward strategy that assumes complete ownership and responsibility for the venture's success or failure.


    The idiom "burn your boats/bridges" can be used to discourage someone from pursuing a certain course of action that is likely to lead to negative outcomes. It can also be used to emphasize the importance of commitment and dedication by referencing the historical act of burning boats or bridges to show total commitment to a cause.

    Origin of "Burn your boats"

    The origins of the idiom "burn your boats/bridges" can be traced back to ancient military tactics. When soldiers would arrive at enemy shores, their commanders would order them to burn their boats or bridges to prevent any possibility of retreat. This act of burning the means of escape symbolized a total commitment to the mission at hand.

    The idiom has since been used metaphorically to convey the idea of committing fully to a course of action, without any possibility of turning back. It is often used to emphasize the importance of dedication and determination in pursuing a goal, as well as to caution against taking actions that may lead to negative consequences.