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[burn-out] /ˈbɜrnˌaʊt/
a fire that is totally destructive of something.
Also, burn-out. fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.
  1. the termination of effective combustion in a rocket engine, due to exhaustion of propellant.
  2. the end of the powered portion of a rocket's flight.
Electricity. the breakdown of a lamp, motor, or other electrical device due to the heat created by the current flowing through it.
Origin of burnout
First recorded in 1900-05; noun use of verb phrase burn out Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for burnout
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • burnout of the second stage came suddenly, and we heaved slightly against our belts as the springs in our seats pushed back out.

    The Trouble with Telstar John Berryman
  • It would take practically absolute simultaneity to overload to the point of burnout to those Strett generators.

    Masters of Space Edward Elmer Smith
Word Origin and History for burnout

also burn-out, "drug user," by 1972, slang, from the verbal phrase, from burn (v.) + out (adv.). Meaning "mental exhaustion from continuous effort" is from 1975.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for burnout



  1. Total and incapacitating exhaustion; inability to go on •The term apparently originated among psychotherapists, describing their own overstressed condition: Many report lawyer burnout after two or three years in practice/ high rate of teacher burnout (1970s+)
  2. Boredom; apathy; satiation •The currency of this and the previous sense is due to the various narcotics users' meanings of burn out: I feared polka burnout, but it never happened. I became a polkaholic (1970s+)
  3. (also burn) A user or abuser of drugs, liquor, etc: There are two groups in my school, the jocks and burn-outs. The burn-outs smoke and take pills and drink/ except for the long hairs (or ''burns,'' short for ''burnouts'') who hang out on the steps and smoke (1970s+ Teenagers)
  4. A very high-speed hot-rod race (1950s+ Hot rodders)
  5. An informal match where players try to throw a baseball so hard that it cannot be caught without undue pain
  6. The point where a rocket or missile has exhausted its fuel (1950s+ Astronautics)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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