burn (one's) bridges

(redirected from burned her 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 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.
See also: bridge, burn

burn one's bridges

Also, burn one's boats. Commit oneself to an irreversible course. For example, Denouncing one's boss in a written resignation means one has burned one's bridges, or Turning down one job before you have another amounts to burning your boats. Both versions of this idiom allude to ancient military tactics, when troops would cross a body of water and then burn the bridge or boats they had used both to prevent retreat and to foil a pursuing enemy. [Late 1800s] Also see cross the rubicon.
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

burn (one's) bridges

To eliminate the possibility of return or retreat.
See also: bridge, burn
References in classic literature ?
Because she had been afraid she might succumb to the pleas of this giant, she had burned her bridges behind her--in her groundless apprehension that she might make a terrible mistake, she had made a worse one.
Ola Jordan for not realising the only reason she has a showbiz career is because she's on Strictly and, having burned her bridges there, all that'll be left will be halfnaked photoshoots and opening supermarkets.
Declan's video confession has revealed the full extent of her crimes, and afraid that he is still out there waiting for her, Charity needs her family now more than ever - but she's well and truly burned her bridges.
She added that she "met another guy and fell in love" and her 79-year old former Army corporal husband, Wills, tried to get her back but she felt she had burned her bridges.
SHOWBIZ HOLLYWOOD actress Chloe Sevigny has burned her bridges with Mancunians after slamming their city.
Having burned her bridges, Olga walks through the woods, initially alone, then passing an African-American soldier fishing in a sylvan brook.