We use the "night owl" idiom for a person who go to sleep late at night, and the "early bird" for those who wake up early in the morning.

Is there any idiom for a person who goes to sleep late at night (2 AM) and wakes up early in the morning (6 AM)?

  • 2
    exhausted – Dan Bron Jun 2 at 13:34
  • @DanBron Is exhausted an idiom? I want idiom. I think the meaning of exhausted is very tired. – SillyNinja Jun 2 at 13:35
  • @SillyNinja "exhausted": Humour… if you give that some thought… – LPH Jun 2 at 13:57
  • How about insomniac? – RobJarvis Jun 2 at 14:13

They burn the candle at both ends.

The idiom was translated from French in 1611. It can be found in Randal Cotgrave’s dictionary. Initially the idiom meant that one was dissipating one’s wealth. Meaning that you were causing your money to disappear. This is because candles were expensive and burning them cost money. If you were burning the candle at both ends you were being wasteful. You would also have to hold the candle horizontally, leading to the wax dripping off and being wasted.

The idiom has since taken on a different meaning. Both ends refer to the end and beginning of the day. If you have to light a candle then we assume it is dark outside. Thus, if you burn it in the morning you are up before the sun and if you burn it at night it is already dark when you finish.


  • 2
    "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!" -- Edna St. Vincent Millay – psmears Jun 2 at 13:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.