1

I am burning with questions about XYZ topic.

To mean:

I have a lot of questions about XYZ topic.

Possibly:

I have a lot of burning questions about XYZ topic.

Is this something others will understand?

Background

I went to send this in an email to a colleague. It made perfect sense to me as I wrote it and I'm sure I've seen or heard this said before. But on reading back my email, I wondered if it makes sense. I looked it up (on Google) and couldn't find any obvious reference to this specific phrase...

  • A google search for burning with questions brings up results of "burning questions"; especially links to a video series "[celebrity] answers Ellen's Burning Questions". This would suggest that the phrase "burning questions" is significantly more common than "burning with questions"
  • A google search for "burning with questions" (using quote marks to search for the exact phrase) is more successful, and quotes about 42,300 results, but the majority of the first page is about one single paper "Creativity and bipolar disorder: touched by fire or burning with questions?", which implies that this paper is using an unusual phrase.
  • "I looked it up on google but found nothing" isn't particularly helpful. What were your exact search parameters, and what were your results? I'll edit in what I found, but feel free to correct it. – AndyT Apr 17 at 9:45
  • The difference is whether it's the question or you that's burning. – Lawrence Apr 17 at 11:26
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    @AndyT cheers for the edit. I had tried both of those and received the same results. You are correct that my initial summary was incomplete. I will bear in this mind for the future. – oliver-clare Apr 17 at 12:12
  • It's ungrammatical to include the word topic as you have. Nobody would say questions about English topic. Is the word topic supposed to be literally in your sentence? Or do you really just mean questions about XYZ? – Jason Bassford Apr 17 at 16:45
  • A native speaker would never use “burning” as an adjective for his or her own questions. – Global Charm Apr 17 at 22:56
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You're conflating two separate idioms here: burning with [something] and burning questions. That said, your phrase seemed completely natural and understandable to me as a native British English speaker, and it wasn't until googling it that I realised the phrase isn't particularly idiomatic.

Googling "burning with" gave me results of burning with anger/rage/desire as the most common [something]s. Idioms.thefreedictionary gives:

to strongly feel a certain emotion. Pete's burning with anger because he heard the awful things that people are saying about him. I found myself burning with jealousy the first time I saw my ex-boyfriend with his new boyfriend.

"Questions" isn't really an emotion, so we can't really say that "burning with questions" comes under that.

That said, going to later pages of the google search for your phrase (with quotes to search for the exact phrase) does show that it's not just a single paper that uses the phrase.

A google ngrams search does show a bit of usage for your phrase, but not as common as the other idioms I mentioned.

My conclusion: "burning with questions" isn't as common as "burning with [emotion]" or "burning questions" but you'd be far from the first person to use it, and you'd be understood by native speakers.

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    One could be burning with curiosity because you have a lot of burning questions. – user323578 Apr 17 at 11:26
  • @JamesRandom - haha, good suggestion. Perhaps I should have asked this as a single-word request. Also burning with desire to have my questions answered. AndyT, I appreciate this reply, thanks. – oliver-clare Apr 17 at 12:14
  • @JamesRandom - Good point. "Curiosity" isn't an emotion, and yet the ngram (link too long to post in comment) puts it in the same order of magnitude of usage as rage/anger/desire. – AndyT Apr 17 at 14:43
  • @AndyT Not an emotion but a "state of mind" maybe? – user323578 Apr 17 at 14:49

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