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Suppose Tim is working very hard and constantly pushing his limit, at the cost of his health, by often staying up late and forgetting to take breaks. This is similar to overdrafting one's bank account, but here he is "overdrafting" his health "account". So I wonder if there is a verb or an expression that closely means "overdrafting" one's health "account"?


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When you take an overdraft, you have withdrawn more money than you have and are in debt. The same cannot be said for health as you cannot take more than you have. So no, I don't think you will find an equivalent word. – zooone9243 May 27 '12 at 12:11
where is my comment to zoo's original reply (now comment)? – Tim May 27 '12 at 12:57
It went away when the owner of the question deleted it. Comments are considered somewhat expendable because they are not 'necessary'. – Mitch May 27 '12 at 13:02
@zooone9243: Your understanding is different from mine. "A person overdrafts his health" is understood as he overuses his body, keeping working when his body signals it cannot stand and need rest. – Tim May 27 '12 at 13:05
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned yet, but the standard verb for "overdraft" is "overdrawing". "Overdrafting" will be understood but is slightly non-standard. – Mark Beadles May 27 '12 at 20:16
up vote 8 down vote accepted

There's the idiom burning the candle at both ends, which one website1 defines as:

To exhaust oneself or one's resources by leading a hectic or extravagant life.

It doesn't necessarily imply health risks, but could certainly be used in that context.


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Over-exerting is an option.

By working hard, he is over-exerting himself.

Other words or idioms:

  • to toil (struggle hard)
  • to slog away
  • work one's fingers to the bone
  • work like a Trojan
  • work one's socks off
  • put oneself through the mill
  • keep one's nose to the grindstone
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Over-extending is a related possibility. – Bill Lefurgy May 27 '12 at 12:55

A similar phrase is on borrowed time.

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Bankrupting your health seems to be a phrase sometimes used when people continue to practice bad health habits that eventually catch up with them. I think it would mean that you are aware of the habits, but continue to do them.

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On can refer to "overtaxing his/her strength/health." Money is not the only thing that can be overtaxed.

Another word is to overexert.

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What about working beyond one's health capacity?

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Answers do not typically end in question marks. – tchrist Mar 4 '14 at 13:57

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