No one can be more guiltier than me with this idiom... Burning the candle at both ends.
It means you are living too fast, at a hectic pace, trying to play a balancing act, between work and play.
Long hours and no rest, staying out late, partying, drinking, then having to get up and go to work, with hardly any or no sleep at all. Late night one end, early morning the other.
Now that I'm older, I don't do either. Party or work. That's the way I like it.
The saying, "burning the candle at both ends" coined in the 18th century, has changed it's literal meaning over time. Before that in 1730 Nathan Bailey wrote about it in his book Dictionarium Britannicum, a dictionary of 48,000 words. He gave a figurative interpretation calling both ends, husband and wife both Spendthrifts. Candles a staple at the time, were coveted and valuable. The thought of someone lighting it on both ends suggested a wasteful person.
*FACT: the only way to successfully keep a candle lit on both ends is to lay the candle horizontally. Logically, this would mean they would burn faster. With a shorter life span.
It was written into a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay in the 20's.
"A Few Figs From Thistles"
My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends
It gives a lovely light.
Which brings me to another two future blogs. "Not worth the candle" and "Hold a candle."
Other idioms: "Counting Sheep"