burn your bridges

burn (one's) bridges

1. Literally, to destroy a bridge or path behind oneself, so that others cannot follow. This usage is often related to military action. When the troops retreated from the area, they were sure to burn their bridges behind them.
2. To do something that cannot be easily undone or reversed in the future (often because one has behaved offensively or unfavorably). I think you really burned your bridges when you announced you were quitting and proceeded to insult your boss in front of the whole staff. She's young, so I don't think she realizes that she'll be burning her bridges if she goes to work for their competitor.
See also: bridge, burn

burn your bridges

If you burn your bridges, you do something which forces you to continue with a particular course of action, and makes it impossible for you to return to an earlier situation. I didn't sell my house because I didn't know how long I would be here. I didn't want to burn all my bridges. She had burned her bridges behind her; she had called Mimi to tell her she couldn't take the job at the Foundation and she had accepted another job offer. Note: In British English, you can also say that you burn your boats. She decided to go to Glasgow to study for a degree in astronomy. Then, just before she started, she thought she might be burning her boats and so she did physics after all. Note: During invasions, Roman generals sometimes burned their boats or any bridges they had crossed, so that their soldiers could not retreat but were forced to fight on.
See also: bridge, burn

burn your ˈbridges

(British English also burn your ˈboats) do something that makes it impossible for you to return to a previous situation: Once you sign this document, you’ll have burned your boats, and will have to go ahead with the sale. OPPOSITE: keep/leave (all) your options open
See also: bridge, burn
References in periodicals archive ?
Do not burn your bridges behind you because we are leading to one world.
Finally, don't burn your bridges If, in spite of your best efforts, you haven't been able to successfully negotiate the pay rise you wanted, you may decide you feel undervalued by your employer.
Maybe, you don't want to burn your bridges," was his response to that prospect.
You can't burn your bridges like that," he told The Journal.
You never know what the future holds, so don't burn your bridges.
Here are some top tips on how not to burn your bridges after you have taken the decision to leave your job.
But don't burn your bridges and always remember that a guy who can cheat on one woman won't find it too hard to cheat on another.
To move forward, burn your bridges behind you so you can't go backward," suggests Mercer.
Don't burn your bridges by extracting the last little bit of price during your IPO.
Free yourself from the system and burn your bridges behind you," says Baader's girlfriend Gudrun (Johanna Wokalek) with revolutionary zeal.