Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia.
1. verb To cease burning (as of something that is on fire). 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.
1. Overworked or exhausted, especially to the point of no longer being able to maintain a particular level of performance or dedication. If you keep working nights and weekends, you're going to get burned out. She's probably burned out after studying all week.
2. slang Physically damaged by drug use. Typically used to describe an IV drug user's veins. I used to be an addict, honey, so my veins are all burned out these days.
3. slang Negatively impacted by drug use or addiction. You can't just dismiss these burned out students when they clearly need help and guidance.
4. slang Tolerant of a certain drug and thus unable to feel its effects anymore. I'm burned out on that stuff, man—it just does nothing for me anymore.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
burned outand burnt out
1. mod. tired; bored. I’m burned out after all that partying.
2. mod. having to do with the ruined veins of an addict. (Drugs.) My veins are burnt out so I shoot in the jug.
3. mod. ruined by marijuana smoking. (see also burnout.) What’s left for these burned out kids?
4. mod. no longer affected by a particular drug. (Drugs.) It’s no good. I’m just burned out. The stuff doesn’t affect me at all.
1. n. a person who is ruined by drugs. Two burnouts sat on the school steps and stared at their feet.
2. n. someone no longer effective on the job. We try to find some other employment for the burnouts.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
burn itself out
To stop burning from lack of fuel: The brush fire finally burned itself out.
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.