burn out(redirected from be burned out)
1. verb To cease burning (as of something that is currently or was recently ablaze). Get the birthday girl in here before the candles on her cake burn out! At this point, the firefighters are just going to let the fire burn out.
2. verb To stop working properly, often through overheating. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun can be used between "burn" and "out." Unfortunately, I think the motor in your lawn mower has burned out. We have to repair the engine before it burns itself out.
3. verb To hollow out by fire, as of a building. The fire completely ravaged and burned out our beloved home.
4. verb To force someone to leave a place by setting it on fire. During their attack, the troops burned out everyone in the town.
5. verb To overwork or exhaust someone or oneself, especially to the point of no longer being able to maintain a particular level of performance or dedication.. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun is often used between "burn" and "out." If you keep staying up so late working on this report, you're going to burn yourself out. Don't burn out your interns by making them come in every day.
6. noun One who is apathetic and unmotivated, especially an employee. When used as a noun, the phrase is usually written as one word. We need to hire some hard workers and get rid of these burnouts who collect a paycheck for doing nothing.
7. noun, slang A regular drug user or addict who displays the adverse effects of drug use, especially cognitive impairment. When used as a noun, the phrase is usually written as one word. You can't dismiss these students just because they're burnouts—they clearly need help and guidance.
burn (itself) out
1. [for a flame or fire] to run out of fuel and go out. Finally, the fires burned themselves out. The fire finally burned out.
2. [for an electrical or mechanical part] to fail and cease working. The motor finally burned itself out. The light bulb burned out.
burn (oneself) out
Fig. to do something so long and so intensely that one gets sick and tired of doing it. I burned myself out as a competitive swimmer. I just cannot stand to practice anymore. Tom burned himself out in that boring job.
burn someone out
Fig. to wear someone out; to make someone ineffective through overuse. (See also use someone up.) Facing all these problems at once will burn Tom out. The continuous problems burned out the office staff in a few months.
burn something out
1. to burn away the inside of something, getting rid of excess deposits. The mechanic burned the carbon out of the manifold. He burned out all of the carbon deposits.
2. to wear out an electrical or electronic device through overuse. Turn it off. You're going to burn the motor out! He burned out the motor.
burn out (something)also burn something out
to stop working because of damage The new motor burned out because they used the wrong type of oil.
Usage notes: usually said about a motor or engine
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of burn out (to stop producing a flame)
burn out (somebody)also burn somebody out
to stop being effective because of too much work or stress Most of these people will burn out within 10 years and be replaced by younger employees who don't mind working nights, weekends, and holidays. This work burns me out so much that by the end of the day I can't even decide what I want to eat for dinner.
1. Stop functioning because something, such as fuel, has been used up. For example, There's nothing wrong with the lamp; the light bulb just burned out. [Late 1300s]
2. be burned out. Lose one's home, place of work, or school as the result of a fire. For example, Hundreds of tenants are burned out every year because of negligent landlords.
3. Also, burn oneself out. Make or become exhausted or disaffected, especially with one's work or schooling. For example, Many young lawyers burn themselves out after a few years of 70-hour weeks. This metaphoric term alludes to a fire going out for lack of new fuel. Robert Southey used it in an 1816 essay: "The spirit of Jacobinism was burnt out in France." [1970s]
1. To stop burning from lack of fuel: The candle burned out in a wisp of smoke. The bonfire burned out, and we threw sand on the embers.
2. To become inoperative as a result of excess heat or friction: This vacuum cleaner needs to be fixed—I think the motor burned out.
3. To destroy some structure completely by fire, so that only the frame is left. Used chiefly in the passive: City hall was burned out in the attack.
4. To be compelled or forced to leave some place due to fire. Used chiefly in the passive: The shopkeeper was burned out by arsonists.
5. To become exhausted, especially as a result of stress or excessive work: I'm so burned out with work—I could really use a vacation.
6. To make someone exhausted as a result of stress or excessive work: Your busy schedule will burn you out if you don't take a break soon. I burned myself out by studying too late into the night.