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You are watching: Burning the candle at both ends meaning


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It has actually two meanings.

If you obtained a candle, and also somehow solved it to something in the middle, then you could quite literally irradiate both ends.

While developing slightly an ext light, this would waste your candle by using it double as fast. This is the only an interpretation the OED gives, through the an initial citation gift from the 1736 Dictionarium Britannicum:

The Candle burns at both Ends. Said as soon as Husband and Wife room both Spendthrifts.

Another sense sometimes used is the if one is working particularly long hours, climate one should light a candle at one end of the day, together one start in the dark the the morning, and at the other, as one ends in the dark the the evening.

This feeling though is probably a folk-etymology of what was initially meant through saying that such a human is being wasteful—hence the very first sense—of "life"s candle", yet they may perhaps it is in otherwise thrifty.


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Jon HannaJon Hanna
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burn the candle at both ends is an idiom an interpretation to exhaust oneself, esp by being up late and getting up early on to work; come work very or excessively hard; to job-related too hard for an excellent health or peace of mind. Worsened by also "partying hard" on optimal of working difficult (but no a essential component to the definition).

A candle lit in ~ both ends will burn up much more than twice as quickly/last less than half as lengthy as one lit top top one end alone.

From www.phrases.org.uk

it was an initial coined in the 1700s. The "both ends" climate weren"t the ends of the day yet were a literal referral to the two ends the a candle. Candles were useful and an important and the notion of waste argued by light both ends at as soon as implied reckless waste. This thought may well have actually been accentuated through the reality that candles may only it is in lit in ~ both ends when held horizontally, which would reason them to drip and burn the end quickly.

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Nathan Bailey defined the ax in his Dictionarium Britannicum, 1730, whereby time the phrase had currently been offered a figurative interpretation and the both ends were a husband and wife:

The Candle burns in ~ both Ends. Said when Husband and Wife are both Spendthrifts.

Randle Cotgrave tape-recorded it in A Dictionarie that the French and also hunterriverpei.com Tongues, 1611:

Brusler la chandelle par les deux bouts.

Edna St. Vincent Milay had actually a different take on living to the fullest/living "hard"

from Figs and also Thistles: first Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; however ah, mine foes, and also oh, mine friends— It gives a beloved light!