burn the midnight oil
- work long hours and hard
- to be working until late in the night
- to work very hard and for long hours into the night
- staying awake in the night either studying, reading or working
- It is very very hard assignment, and I had to burn the midnight oil to get it completed on time.
- The assignment was very lengthy so she was forced to burn the midnight oil to get it done on time.
- My brother has a big exam next week so he is already burning the midnight oil. I keep advising him to take it slow.
- The assignment is to be submitted first thing in the morning when they get to school so the children are burning the midnight oil
In 1635, this phrase was used by Francis Quarles in literary work which was a synonym to the word ‘elucubrate’. It literally meant to work by the side of a candle. To burn the mid night oil was the English way of saying that someone was working hard through the night because candles were used in the olden times to provide light at night. The word ‘elucubrate’ was defined in 1623 as doing things by the candlelight.
Recently candles are no longer used as a source of light during the night but the phrase is still popular and has been used in an album by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.