Burning the midnight oil

Burning the midnight oil
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A few years ago, I wrote an e-mail to our Tim and Tammy Friends and told them that David and I were up until 3:30 in the morning "burning the midnight oil".  We were recording a song for my cousin's wedding and had to stay up late to finish.

  • be up = estar acordado
  • stay up late = ficar acordado até tarde


Como se diz “burn the midnight oil" em português? Qual é a tradução de "burn the midnight oil"? What does "burn the midnight oil" mean? What is the meaning of "burn the midnight oil"?

  • burn the midnight oil (literalmente, "queimar o óleo da meia-noite") = to stay up late, working or studying far into the night
  • far into the night = até altas horas da madrugada

Listen to the audio Tim recorded several years ago when he talked about their project and taught the expression "burn the midnight oil":

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Para baixar o áudio, clique aqui.

Lyrics to Wedding Song "Lord Make Us One"

Lord, in this moment may your will be done;
Take our two hearts, Lord, and join them as one.
Cleanse us from evil and selfish desire;
Mold us on the altar of your fire.

Lord, make us one,  forever join our lives;
Lord, make us one with hope that never dies.
In our weakness keep love strong;
In the darkest night, give us Your song.
Bind us together with Your love;
Lord, make us one.

2. Lord, as we face all the trials life can bring,
Draw us still closer and teach us to sing;
Help us to trust You when our world falls apart ?
Knowing the goodness of Your heart.


Now, recently, Tim was up late AGAIN burning the midnight oil, working on the last details on a Christmas CD his kids recorded.

Check out their CD here:


The musicians are Jônatas ( a friend of ours, on the cello), Melissa (Tim's niece, on the violin), Michael (Tim's son, on the piano), and Stephen (Tim's son, on the concert flute).

So how about you? When was the last time you "burned the midnight oil" and why? I'd love to hear about it here. Please post your comment in the comments section below!

Before you post your comment, you can read the following comments that were taken from our "old" site which our Tim and Tammy Friends made the first time we taught this expression ("burning the midnight oil").

Hi Everyone,
Tim, I have to say that your english is much better than your portuguese. 🙂 (Just Kidding!). I've been working hard to reach this pronunciation. I loved the song. You play piano; don't you? I'm a sax player! Congrats for the song.
Take it easy!
~ Sidney (Canada)

Well, I have never burned the midnight oil; at least, I don’t remember doing that... oh, sorry, once I burned the midnight oil praying!!!
I got home at 6 am... i think...
~ Gilselane

Hi there,
This website is really fantastic... I can't wait for the DVD! So... last time I burned the midnight oil was on Thursday working at the company.
Bye ... until next week... short and sweet today!!
~ Paulo

I burned the midnight oil last night checking my pics on my computer... and today I’m so tired!
But I feel so happy to learn with Tim and Tamy, thanks.
~ Alex Mendes

Hey! I've been burning the midnight oil for several months becouse, besides my current job, I'm working for my own company at home, too!!
Best Regards,
~ Ione

The last time I burned the midnight oil was last night (Tuesday), because my boyfriend and I were talking. We drank wine and talked about some important subjects; it was a very fun night.
~ Michele Zucolota

Hi, my dear!! I burned the midnight oil last year when I was in college. Oh, my gosh!! It was too much work 🙂 .
Have a good day!
~ Mi

First, I must say that you're really cool! This is a very nice way to learn new expressions and slang! Love it!
So, I've been burning the midnight oil because of my job. I'm a teacher and I always have so many things to do. It's not a piece of cake at all! :-p
Thanks for the tips!
Huge hugs,
~ Myriam

The recording is very beautiful!! I liked it a lot!
Was it really David singing?! Woooow!! He has an incredible voice!
And Tim plays the piano very well!! =)
Well... Last time I burned (could it be 'burnt'???) the midnight oil was last week, when I was doing a history homework for school.. It was about the elections that occured in Italy.. By the way, Berlusconi lost and the winner was Prodi.. hehe..
I stayed up late doing it... And as it had to be done in groups, the chats and laughs in the middle of the work made us waste a lot of time... 😛
But that was great! It's good to do something different sometimes...
Thanks for the new expression you've taught us!!
See you!
~ Alessandra

Well, the last time I burned the midnight oil was just yesterday... when trying to find my 2005-tax income report in order to "feed the Lion" on time. Such was the hassle that I nearly went out of oil and fainted. 🙂 All that stuff, year in and year out, makes me feel awfully frazzled.
~ Tiago

I guess the last time I was up burning the midnight oil happened when I had a History test at High School. The latest one. Well, this is the worst subject ever, for me at least. So I really had to study hard so I wouldn't flunk it. That's it. See you guys!
~ Guilherme

Hullo Mates!
I am glad to be here to give my little contribution to this AWESOME english web site. Tim, you haven't the fogiest idea how much you are helping people out there with their english doubts, and stuff. I must say: Congratulations! Creativity has always been something I cherish , and you've got it!
Well, let's get on the ball!
It's been a while since I last burned the midnight oil; however, I can remember it clearly. I was writing the introduction to my "so-called" book; which by the way has not been finished yet 🙁 , but it will be soon enough. 🙂
That's that!
Cheers laddies and sheilas (with all due respect).
~ Max Rodrigo

Here I am burning the midnight oil once again! 🙂 (2:00 a.m., April 29, 2006) Still working on the CD.
~ Tim Barrett

You guys are great! Congratulations for the song as well. It was escellent! By the way, I’m a pianist and singer too, and I was wondering if you could send it to me... 🙂 Anyway, thanks lot for such useful tips.
~ Maristela

I got so excited by the song that I forgot completely about the subject here... Well, the last time I was up burning the midnight oil was when I had to study hard for exams at college and it was a long time ago 🙂
~ Maristela

Well, I really don’t remember the last time I burned the midnight oil... I work, study, etc, but I always have time to do what I need... so, that's why, maybe.
~ Johnny

Yesterday I burned the midnight oil... just playing Resident Evil... hehe.... There's no way to play it in afternoons; it is not as fun as at night....lol...
Take care!
~ Rodrigo

Last time I burned the midnight oil was...last night! (Don't tell anybody, but I was chatting.) I'm so tired now, but I have to work anyway. I should be on vacation, but two teachers got sick and I have to teach in their place today...See you later alligator!
~ Ianne

Here I am again!
Lately I've burnt the midnight oil almost every night. I'm studying hard lately... Guess Why? University's tests... But I do have to study a lot to get good marks...
Bye for now!
~ Elaine Ramalho

Well, I always go to bed very early, at about 9.30, because I get up very early to study; so I don’t burn "any" midnight oils. 🙂 Cheers!
~ Anaisnain

I just know “the Midnight Oil”, an Australian rock`n roll band. I don`t know if it is a song of this band.
~ Du

Everytime I don’t have enough time to plan my classes during the day I burn the midnigt oil then. But the last time was last week while reading your tips and answers writen by your fans (count me among them!), I just forgot about the time. Bye!
~ Alzira

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9 comments “Burning the midnight oil”

Great work. Congratulations, and I wish you and your wonderful family all the best in this Christmas. Hugs from Brazil.

Thank you so much, Magda! I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, too!

I like the the idiom: “burn the candle at both ends”.

Yes, but it’s not a good idea to do that in your life! 🙂

Thank you Tim for the explanation!
I burned the midnight oil yesterday talking on skype with my friend.
In portuguese I would say: Eu varei a noite ontem conversando no Skype com meu amigo.

Merry Christmas !

Thank you for your comment, Maria! And thank you for giving the equivalent expression in Portuguese!

Thanks for you tips. I loved this song, it almost made me cry…..:D God bless you!

Thanks, Helda! So glad you enjoyed the song!

I’m happy meet you,and I want give congratulations for website. Yesterday I “burn the midnight oil” because was studying english.

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