burn out: meaning and explanation

If a fire ‘burns out’ then it stops burning because it has run out of fuel. e.g. The fire is going to burn out if we don’t add some more wood.

Burn out has a metaphorical meaning, which is used to say that someone is no longer able to work (or too exhausted to work effectively) because they have been working too much. The idea is that, like a fire which has died, they have used up all their resources. e.g. After 6 months of working 16 hour days, he completely burned out and had to take a long break.

This phrasal verb can be used as a noun to describe the condition of being exhausted from overwork: burn-out or burnout. e.g. It is very common for young entrepreneurs to suffer from burnout during the early years of their business.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: England (RP)

Paul .
Paul is going if he these .
I’m that Paul is going to out if he working these .

…if he keeps working these hours

Notice the useful verb pattern to keep doing something, which means to continue doing something. e.g. How much longer are you going to keep pretending that there isn’t a problem?

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Have you every suffered from burnout? What caused it, and what did you do to recover?
  • Why do you think burnout is becoming more common? Or do you think we are more aware of it now?

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Actually, I’m working in a coffee and it’s an easy job but I have to be standing up for 8 hours and keep in moving, that’s good because time flies when you have fun. To recover myself I need to sleep at least 7 hours. But yes, sometimes I feel that job is burning me out, fortunately, the coffee is unlimited. The world moves so far every day, time is going on quickly. People need to do more things in less time, tech has helped to develop thing and ideas and that’s what we have to strive harder than ever… Read more »

Ricardo Vergara
Ricardo Vergara
1 year ago

I like that because make me effort to try to understand the meanings

1 year ago

1. Suffering from burn-out is common in physicians whose jobs require shift schedules along with the burden of pressure and stress related to their job.
2. The past week I decided to study 3 more hours than usual. But at the end of the week, I ended up burning out myself

Ask questions or practise new language in the comments sectionx

Send this to a friend