Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Burn.

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
His money burns a hole in his pocket. He cannot keep it in his pocket, or forbear spending it.   1
   To burn one’s boats. To cut oneself off from all means or hope of retreat. The allusion is to Julius Cæsar and other generals, who burned their boats or ships when they invaded a foreign country, in order that their soldiers might feel that they must either conquer the country or die, as retreat would be impossible.   2
   To burn one’s fingers. To suffer loss by speculation or interference. The allusion is to taking chestnuts from the fire.   3
        “He has been bolstering up these rotten iron-works. I told him he would burn his fingers.”—Mrs. Lynn Linton.
   You cannot burn the candle at both ends. You cannot do two opposite things at one and the same time; you cannot exhaust your energies in one direction, and yet reserve them unimpaired for something else. If you go to bed late you cannot get up early. You cannot eat your cake and have it too. You cannot serve God and Mammon. You cannot serve two masters. Poursuis deux lièvres, et les manques. (La Fontaine.) Simul sorbre ac flare non possum.   4
   We burn daylight. We waste time in talk instead of action. (Shakespeare: Merry Wives of Windsor, ii. 1.)   5



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