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Burn the candle at both ends


 

看到这个短语,大家都会觉得很形象, "burn the candle at both ends"一天中日出前日落后都点蜡烛工作,那么就是说"某人工作非常勤奋"。这个短语一定在电灯发明前就出现了吧。

没错,这个短语的确在电灯发明前就出现了,当时蜡烛是每家每户的日常必需品。不过这个短语的最初的含义是蜡烛两端都被点着,因此很快就被用完。勤俭持家的人是不可能这样做的,所以引申义是"某人将金钱挥霍掉",而这个短语中 "burn"本来就有"挥霍"的意思,例如在19世纪美国铁路日志上的一段话: "...they had been 'burning the candle at both ends,' and instead of holding in reserve a portion of their easily acquired earnings, they had been spending money with a lavish hand." 这里,短语被用于描述铁路方面的管理不善。

如今这个短语的意思从 "某人挥霍金钱" 发展为"挥霍体力和精力",也就有了"某人夜以继日地从事高强度工作以至累得筋疲力竭"的意思。现在这个短语有两个含义:(1) 某人工作过于辛苦,睡眠时间极短,如2000年《底特律新闻》上的用法: "Our students are...trying to burn the candle at both ends, they're not only studying, but most of them are working several jobs" ; (2) 某人因参与社会活动过多而导致睡眠时间极少,如2000年《丹佛落基山新闻》上引述一棒球手的话: "I have to keep going to get ahead. That's the only way I know how to be successful. I've played with a lot of guys who had better ability, and...they would go out and party and stuff and burn the candle at both ends and not take it seriously" 。