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[burn-out] /ˈbɜrnˌaʊt/
a fire that is totally destructive of something.
Also, burn-out. fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.
  1. the termination of effective combustion in a rocket engine, due to exhaustion of propellant.
  2. the end of the powered portion of a rocket's flight.
Electricity. the breakdown of a lamp, motor, or other electrical device due to the heat created by the current flowing through it.
1900-05; noun use of verb phrase burn out Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for burnout
  • If the photos were adjusted so you could see the stars you would not be able to see anything but burnout on the objects shown.
  • In the aftermath of the dot-com burnout, cash-hungry search engines turned to paid inclusion as a new source of revenue.
  • The system kept turning on and off, resulting in the burnout of a water pump.
  • Whether or not these people have families this leads to burnout and is therefore wasteful.
  • Depression and burnout may play varying roles in how physicians treat patients and themselves.
British Dictionary definitions for burnout

burn out

verb (adverb)
to become or cause to become worn out or inoperative as a result of heat or friction: the clutch burnt out
(intransitive) (of a rocket, jet engine, etc) to cease functioning as a result of exhaustion of the fuel supply
(transitive; usually passive) to destroy by fire
to become or cause to become exhausted through overwork or dissipation
the failure of a mechanical device from excessive heating
a total loss of energy and interest and an inability to function effectively, experienced as a result of excessive demands upon one's resources or chronic overwork
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for burnout

also burn-out, "drug user," by 1972, slang, from the verbal phrase, from burn (v.) + out (adv.). Meaning "mental exhaustion from continuous effort" is from 1975.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for burnout


  1. Total and incapacitating exhaustion; inability to go on •The term apparently originated among psychotherapists, describing their own overstressed condition: Many report lawyer burnout after two or three years in practice/ high rate of teacher burnout (1970s+)
  2. Boredom; apathy; satiation •The currency of this and the previous sense is due to the various narcotics users' meanings of burn out: I feared polka burnout, but it never happened. I became a polkaholic (1970s+)
  3. (also burn) A user or abuser of drugs, liquor, etc: There are two groups in my school, the jocks and burn-outs. The burn-outs smoke and take pills and drink/ except for the long hairs (or ''burns,'' short for ''burnouts'') who hang out on the steps and smoke (1970s+ Teenagers)
  4. A very high-speed hot-rod race (1950s+ Hot rodders)
  5. An informal match where players try to throw a baseball so hard that it cannot be caught without undue pain
  6. The point where a rocket or missile has exhausted its fuel (1950s+ Astronautics)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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