Word Origin Comics: All Lit Up and Nowhere to Go

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light.

---- Edna St. Vincent Millay, "A Few Figs from Thistles", 1920

Burning the candle at both ends? The expression entered English in the 17th century, when candles were an expensive but necessary form of household lighting. The only reason one might do that is to gain a little extra light. But to burn a candle at both ends requires that you hold it horizontally, which causes the wax to drip and also uses up the candle too quickly. Are you, like the candle also burning yourself out too quickly for a brief moment of whatever?



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