burn one's bridges/boats, to(redirected from burn one's bridges/boats)
burn (one's) boats
To do something that cannot be easily undone or reversed in the future. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I think you burned your boats 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 boats if she goes to work for their competitor.
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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
burn one's bridges(behind one)
1. Lit. to cutoff the way back to where you came from, making it impossible to retreat. The army, which had burned its bridges behind it, couldn't go back. By blowing up the road, the spies had burned their bridges behind them.
2. Fig. to act unpleasantly in a situation that you are leaving, ensuring that you'll never be welcome to return. If you get mad and quit your job, you'll be burning your bridges behind you. No sense burning your bridges. Be polite and leave quietly.
3. Fig. to make decisions that cannot be changed in the future. If you drop out of school now, you'll be burning your bridges behind you. You're too young to burn your bridges that way.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
burn (one's) bridges
To eliminate the possibility of return or retreat.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
burn one's bridges/boats, to
To commit oneself to an irreversible course of action, without possibility of backing down. The expression comes from ancient military history, when soldiers crossing a river literally burned the bridge or boats they had used in order to cut off the possibility of retreat. A cliché by the nineteenth century, the expression has invited a number of humorous twists, such as “Never burn your bridges till you come to them” (Stanley Walker, 1941). See also cross the Rubicon.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer