burn boats; burn one’s bridges; never burn bridge; burn a bridge,
- remove someone’s all options of retreat, act decisively
- a nasty act of permanently ending a relationship with someone
- to act in a way that destroys any chance of returning to the way things were
- to end a relationship in such a way that you could never go back and re-start the relationship again
- eliminate all possible methods of going back to the prior state of affairs
- She has already burned his bridges with his previous employer by publicly criticizing their marketing policy.
- I would need to be humble with her. I don’t want to burn my bridges with her.
- I think you just burned your bridges by insulting your team leader in front of the team.
- Today, I told my boss what I think of him. I guess I burned my bridges.
- Never burn bridges between yourself and your neighbours because you never know when you will need them in the future.
- If you don’t get along, keep your distance but never burn bridges.
- If you want to take the island, then burn your boats. – Tonny Robbins
- I knew we would never get him back. He’d burned his boats.
- I don’t regret burning my bridges. I regret that some people weren’t on those bridges when I burnt them. – King Hill
- Burning a bridge at the right time can actually open up new opportunities for you to grow professionally.
The idiom was originated in the late 1800s and is derived from the concept of burning down a bridge after crossing it throughout a military operation, leaving no option but to keep marching. In the olden times, during the war, soldiers would cross a waterbody and then burn the bridge or boats they had used to prevent retreat and halt the following enemy.
Metaphorically, it means obliging oneself to a specific course of action by making an alternative approach impossible.
“Burn one’s boats” is a variation of “burning one’s bridges” and alludes to specific famous incidents where a commander, having landed in a hostile country, ordered his men to destroy their ships so that they would have to conquer the country or be killed.
One such (oldest) event was in 711 AD when Muslim army entered the Iberian Peninsula. The commander, Tariq bin Ziyad, ordered his boats to be burned.