burn (one's) bridges

(redirected from burned his 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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 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.
See also: bridge, burn
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
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.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

burn (one's) bridges

To eliminate the possibility of return or retreat.
See also: bridge, burn
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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
While O'Neill is convinced a huge attack is imminent, he's also burned his bridges with his boss, who sends him on a retirement preparation conference.
Mancini burned his bridges with Tevez a long time ago with the tough stance he took, but right now he could do with a player like him to add some zip to the team.
SPAIN whizzkid Bojan Krkic has burned his bridges at Barcelona by blasting nou Camp coach pep Guardiola.
"He has just been training full-time with Hamilton with our encouragement and support, but now he may have burned his bridges."
He ignored the claims of Monday's brilliant Deutsche Bank winner Charley Hoffman, dropped Anthony Kim from the winning Valhalla side after the Californian failed to convince in five comeback performances following thumb surgery, while the favourite for the fourth spot, Sean O'Hair, burned his bridges by finishing stone-cold last in Boston last week.
Although the prospect of Flintoff picking and choosing his own playing schedule across the globe may not sit easily with the England hierarchy, Strauss was quick to point out that the talismanic all-rounder has not yet burned his bridges at international level.
Faldo (right) burned his bridges with many of his fellow players during his competitive years because of his haughty attitude towards them.
Robert burned his bridges with United last season due to his outspoken views, notably on the eve of the club's UEFA Cup quarter-final clash with Sporting Lisbon when he criticised boss Graeme Souness.
Robert burned his bridges with United last season, and in particular manager Graeme Souness, due to his outspoken views, notably on the eve of the club's UEFA Cup quarter-final clash with Sporting Lisbon when he criticised the team and the Scot.
Having burned his bridges with Newcastle and moved to Celtic on loan in the transfer window, he responded in his first match since his war of words with Graeme Souness by scoring both the goals which gave Wales their first win in the Millennium Stadium for a year.
Having burned his bridges in France, Mike now admires NYC bridges with Zoe (co-scripter Sarah Zoe Canner), a fetching law student, who digs Mike's hairy bod but knows nothing of his hairy past.
He burned his bridges with Tony Pulis with some stinging comments in the Danish press about Boro's style and set-up.
And last September, he appeared to have burned his bridges by tweeting explosive comments about the Wallabies set-up.
But after his latest bout of trouble they said he had "burned his bridges".
DAVID Haye hopes to win Nikolai Valuev's WBA heavyweight title in November before securing unification showdowns with the Klitschko brothers - but has been warned he has burned his bridges with the Ukrainian champions.