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burn the midnight oil

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To stay awake late at night to work or study: “Jill has been burning the midnight oil lately; I guess she has a big exam coming up.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

MORE ABOUT BURN THE MID NIGHT OIL

What does burn the midnight oil mean?

Burn the midnight oil is a phrase that means to stay up late at night to work, study, read, or perform some other activity, as in In order to finish this project on time we are going to have to burn the midnight oil tonight.

Burn the midnight oil is especially likely to refer to studying or working.

Example: Jack really needed to pass the test, so he burned the midnight oil last night.

Where does burn the midnight oil come from?

The first records of burn the midnight oil come from around 1635. At the time, oil lamps were commonplace and the expression refers to needing lamplight in order to see while reading or working late at night. Today, oil lamps aren’t generally the main source of light, so the expression is used figuratively.

Although it is not always the case, burn the midnight oil is often used when discussing tight deadlines or impending exams. Students in particular tend to hold off studying until the final moments. For this reason, burn the midnight oil is used to refer to the late-night cramming that students often do before important tests or to their tendency to hastily complete homework the night before it is due.

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What are some words that share a root or word element with burn the midnight oil

What are some words that often get used in discussing burn the midnight oil?

How is burn the midnight oil used in real life?

Burn the midnight oil is used to mean a person is staying up late to do something. Usually, they are not happy about whatever it is they have to do.

Try using burn the midnight oil!

True or False?

Burn the midnight oil refers to going to sleep early to be prepared for something the next morning.

How to use burn the midnight oil in a sentence

Other Idioms and Phrases with burn the midnight oil

burn the midnight oil

Stay up late working or studying, as in The semester is almost over and we're all burning the midnight oil before exams. This expression alludes to the oil in oil lamps. [Early 1600s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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