Idiom | To Burn Bridges

Idiom | To Burn Bridges

Idiom | To Burn Bridges

The idiom ‘to burn (one’s) bridges’ means to do something that can’t be reversed or undone. Usually it refers to a relationship that has been severed, either by an action or something said. Once a bridge has been burned, there is little chance of returning to the way things were.

The idiom dates to the ancient Roman times, when generals would burn the bridges the army had crossed in order to prevent them from retreating.

To burn (one’s) bridgesはとりかえしができない何かをしてしまい、その行動や言動によってこわれてしまった関係性を通常はさします。一度このような状況になりますと、関係性を戻すことは難しいです。


Idiom Usage | To Burn Bridges 使い方

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington To burn (one’s) bridges Idiom
Roman Warrior Attacking his Enemies (

This phrase is only part of a sentence and always needs other words to function correctly. At the very minimum it requires a subject, verb, and pronoun.

The idiom is usually split. This happens between the words burn and bridge. However, it can remain intact. Typically a quantifier (many, a lot, etc) will be inserted between. As well, a possessive adjective (this, her, etc) can also be used.

It can be used in both formal and information situations.

イディオムはこのままでも使えますが、burnとbridgeの間に数量詞(many, a lotなど)や所有格(this, herなど)が入ることもあります。


Examples 例文

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington To burn (one’s) bridges Idiom
Angry Factory Workers Attacking Managers (

He walked out of the factory he was employed at, cursing at the management and screaming at his coworkers. He burned his bridges and will never be able to step foot in there again.


Try not to burn any bridges when you quit your job. You might need a work reference in the future.


I could really use my ex-girlfriend’s help, but I think that bridge has been burned.


In the political world it’s common to burn bridges with members of the opposition.


If you burn too many bridges in our online group no one will reply to your posts.


Janis burned a lot of bridges with her racist comments.


He is a jerk so I was happy to burn that bridge.


Use mnemonic! ニーモニックテクニック

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington To burn (one’s) bridges Idiom
Homer Simpson literally burning a bridge when he quit his job.

Think of the literal situation. If you crossed a ravine and then burnt the bridge you used, it would be impossible to get back to the other side.  

Of course, we always encourage you to create your own mnemonic device. It’s much more effect if you do that.

Check out our post on mnemonics basics to learn more.





Keep Studying

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