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run on empty

Slang definitions & phrases for run on empty

run on empty

verb phrase

  1. To be ineffectual; fail: As televison, ''The Africans'' is sometimes stunning; as scholarship it runs on empty
  2. To be nearly devoid of resources: The school system is running on empty, too, with a $400 million deficit/ Our bank account must be running on fumes again

[1980s+; fr the needle of a fuel gauge indicating ''Empty'']

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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