burn (one's) fingers

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burn (one's) fingers

To suffer an unpleasant or ruinous consequence (especially the loss of money) for some action, often such that one becomes unwilling or uneager to do it again. During the boom times, countless would-be investors put everything they owned into shady investment deals, and most of them ended up burning their fingers badly.
See also: burn, finger

burn one's fingers

Harm oneself, as in I'm staying away from risky stocks; I've burned my fingers often enough. Some believe this expression came from a legend about a monkey who gets a cat to pull its chestnuts out of the fire (see cat's paw); others hold it is from an English proverb: "Burn not thy fingers to snuff another's candle" (James Howell, English Proverbs, 1659). [c. 1700]
See also: burn, finger