candle

(redirected from candling)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

candle in the wind

Something that is particularly vulnerable, weak, fragile, or precarious and likely to fail, perish, or be eliminated at any moment. The revolutionaries' bid for freedom is but a candle in the wind at this point, likely to be crushed by the dictator's regime. We all like to think we'll live forever, but we are really just candles in the wind.
See also: candle, wind

doesn't hold a candle

Is not nearly as good or desirable as someone or something else. Can also be used with "can't." The sequel wasn't bad, but it doesn't hold a candle to the original. John's fast all right, but he can't hold a candle to Louise!
See also: candle, hold

The game is not worth the candle.

The outcome, product, or returns of this activity or undertaking are not worth the time and resources that it requires. An allusion to gambling by candlelight, a significant expense at one point in time. If the winnings were not sufficient, then they didn't warrant the needless use of a candle. The local council considered the construction of a new power grid throughout the county, but because it would cost millions and only marginally increase efficiency compared to the current infrastructure, they decided that the game wasn't worth the candle.
See also: game, not, worth

not worth the candle

Said of an activity or undertaking whose outcome, product, or returns are not worth the time and resources that it requires. An allusion to gambling by candlelight, a significant expense at one point in time. If the winnings were not sufficient, then they didn't warrant the needless use of a candle. The local council considered the construction of a new power grid throughout the county, but because it would cost millions and only marginally increase efficiency compared to the current infrastructure, they decided that it wasn't worth the candle.
See also: candle, not, worth

burn the candle at both ends

To overwork or exhaust oneself by doing too many things, especially both late at night and early in the morning. Oh, Denise is definitely burning the candle at both ends—she's been getting to the office early and staying very late to work on some big project.
See also: both, burn, candle, end

can't hold a candle to (someone or something)

Cannot compare to someone or something; is not nearly as good or desirable as someone or something. The sequel wasn't bad, but it can't hold a candle to the original. John's fast all right, but he can't hold a candle to Louise!
See also: candle, hold

bell, book, and candle things that are miraculous or that signal that something

unusual or bizarre may soon happen. (Alluding originally to the items used when performing the rite of excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church.) Look, I can't work miracles! Do you expect me to show up at your house with bell, book, and candle, and make everything right? You have to take charge of your own destiny! On the top shelf of the tiny used-book store, Jim saw a bell, book, and candle sitting in a row, and he knew he was going to find some very interesting reading material.
See also: and, candle, signal, that, thing

burn the candle at both ends

Fig. to work very hard and stay up very late at night. (One end of the candle is work done in the daylight, and the other end is work done at night.) No wonder Mary is ill. She has been burning the candle at both ends for a long time. You'll wear out if you keep burning the candle at both ends.
See also: both, burn, candle, end

can't hold a candle to someone

Fig. not [to be] equal to someone; unable to measure up to someone. (Also with cannot.) Mary can't hold a candle to Ann when it comes to athletics. As for singing, John can't hold a candle to Jane.
See also: candle, hold

not hold a stick to someone or something

 and not hold a candle to someone or something
Fig. not to be nearly as good as someone or something. Sally is much faster than Bob. Bob doesn't hold a stick to Sally. This TV doesn't hold a candle to that one. That one is much better.
See also: hold, not, stick

burn the candle at both ends

Exhaust one's energies or resources by leading a hectic life. For example, Joseph's been burning the candle at both ends for weeks, working two jobs during the week and a third on weekends . This metaphor originated in France and was translated into English in Randle Cotgrave's Dictionary (1611), where it referred to dissipating one's wealth. It soon acquired its present broader meaning.
See also: both, burn, candle, end

game is not worth the candle, the

The returns from an activity or enterprise do not warrant the time, money or effort required. For example, The office he is running for is so unimportant that the game's not worth the candle. This expression, which began as a translation of a term used by the French essayist Michel de Montaigne in 1580, alludes to gambling by candlelight, which involved the expense of illumination. If the winnings were not sufficient, they did not warrant the expense. Used figuratively, it was a proverb within a century.
See also: game, not, worth

hold a candle to, not

Also, not fit to or cannot hold a candle to. Be inferior to someone or something, as in This hotel can't hold a candle to the Palace, or This new friend of his is not fit to hold a candle to his former buddies. This expression was already a proverb in John Heywood's collection of 1546 and alludes to holding a candle to provide light for someone, at that time considered a menial chore.
See also: candle, hold, not

burn the candle at both ends

If you burn the candle at both ends, you try to do too much, regularly going to bed late and getting up early in the morning. Try not to exhaust yourself by burning the candle at both ends. Frank seemed to delight in burning the candle at both ends. No matter how late he stayed out, he was up at five o'clock the next morning to study.
See also: both, burn, candle, end

can't hold a candle to someone/something

If you are comparing two people or things and you say that the first can't hold a candle to the second, you mean that the second is much better than the first. None of these teams can hold a candle to the sides led by Franz Beckenbauer in the early 70s. Newspapers, books and radio cannot hold a candle to television. Note: This expression suggests that the first person does not even deserve to hold a light to help the other person to see.
See also: candle, hold, something

not worth the candle

BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If something is not worth the candle, it is not worth the trouble or effort which is needed in order to achieve or obtain it. Harrison has described the reforms proposed by the governor as `not worth the candle'. Note: You can also talk about the game being worth the candle. He can boast that he married the richest woman in the world. But he must sometimes wonder whether the game was worth the candle. Note: This expression originally referred to a game of cards where the amount of money that people were competing for was less than the cost of the candle used up during the game.
See also: candle, not, worth

hold a candle to

To compare favorably with: This film doesn't hold a candle to his previous ones.
See also: candle, hold

burn the candle at both ends

Extreme effort without time to rest. The phrase, which came originally from a French expression, came to mean working so hard that you burn yourself out. In addition, because candles were once an expensive item, to burn one at both ends implied wasting valuable resources to achieve an obsession. The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay used the image in her verse: My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light
See also: both, burn, candle, end