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Running on empty

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 05, 2007

In Reply to: Running on empty posted by RRC on July 03, 2007

: : : Well, hello to everybody. I had the opportunity to visit this website many times because of homeworks of the English Institute. However, I have a doubt, I don't find the phrase "Running on Empty" I would like to have an answer.

: : It is referring to a car gas tank that is empty or almost empty. The car is running on fumes. And it means a person who is near exhaustion, out of resources, hope, etc. At least that's my take on it.

: As to why "on" empty, it is referring to the needle of the gas gauge being on (pointing to) "E" or "Empty" on the gauge.

I suspect the phrase was coined by one of those authors of the "beat" generation (1950s-60s) to describe his own life. It caught the popular imagination, and has since been used for movies, books and blogs of a large variety. There was an Australian movie of that title in 1982, and a 1988 film starring River Phoenix. John Barker used the title for his biography of River Phoenix. Jackson Browne used the phrase as a title for an album of his music 1977). Robyn Koumourou used the phrase as the title for her book about living with hypothyroidism. Among the large number of other books with that title, the best known is that of Pete Peterson: "Running on empty. How the Democratic and Republican Parties are bankrupting our future and What Americans can do about it" .