phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

The Phrase Finder

Home button Home | Search the phrases.org.uk website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Run out of steam

The meaning and origin of the expression: Run out of steam

Browse phrases beginning with:
 
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List

Run out of steam

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Run out of steam'?

Run out of energy.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Run out of steam'?

The allusion in this phrase is clearly to steam engines which gradually slow and then stop when the fire that powers the boiler is too low to produce steam. The first figurative uses come from the USA in the late 19th century. The earliest of these that I can find is from the Iowa newspaper The Perry Daily Chief, January 1898:

"...that made it impossible for me to get in one word to her hundred. I stood it for a little while in hope she would run out of steam or material, but she gathered force as she went."

Contacts | About us | Copyright © Gary Martin, 2017