burn down: like 10 legendary examples for this hot phrasal verb

burn down charts are used in the agile software development scheme. they indicate how much work is left on a project and how much time it will take to complete.

burn down chart
burning down the hours of work on a project (scrumalliance.org)

burn down is more commonly used as a phrasal verb to describe a structure that is totally destroyed by fire. listen for it in the chorus of the trammps‘ disco classic, disco inferno

burn baby burn, disco inferno.

burn baby burn, burn the mother down.

“the mother” refers to a disco and gives the idea that the disco burns down because the party inside is so intense.

the smiths also sing about burning down a disco on their track panic (1:05) but they are calling to intentionally start the disco on fire because they don’t like the music the dj plays.

pink talks about a relationship that isn’t cool anymore in funhouse.

a funhouse: is it full of fun? or evil clowns?

the funhouse is a metaphor for the relationship that now needs to be burned down.  the chorus says

this used to be a funhouse. but now it’s full of evil clowns.

it’s time to start the countdown. i’m gonna burn it down.

a house burning down is in fact a widely used metaphor.  fans of the legendary funk band parliament yelled “burn down the house” at concerts to encourage the group to play with intensity, similar to the idea in disco inferno (above). these chants were an inspiration to the talking heads and inspired the title to their classic song burning down the house.

parliament in concert

the talking heads’ lyrics hint at this too, but also reflect a dissatisfaction with modern life and values that generates a violent reaction closer to the idea in pink’s song.

these clips from will ferrell’s basketball movie semi-pro are a fictitious representation of the first ever alley-oop in the history of basketball.  the play initially confuses referee (matt walsh) who calls a foul. he changes his mind after jackie (ferrrell) threatens [spoken intent to do damage] at 1:25 to burn his house down, and player/coach ed monix (woody harrelson) explains that it was neither a foul nor a travel.

also interesting in this vid–

after clarence (andre 3000) completes the alley-oop, his mother (ellia english) shouts damn!” at :58 which emphasizes the shock that everyone in the crowd is feeling.

british troops burned down the white house during the war of 1812

blues great albert king‘s song don’t burn that bridge down warns a lover against doing irreparable damage at the end of a relationship. the chorus says

don’t burn down the bridge, u just might wanna come back.

most of the time, this expression doesn’t require the phrasal verb burn down.  the idiom is simply don’t burn your bridges

fun esl practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

finally, last week the golden state warriors qualified for the nba finals for the first time in 40 years. oakland’s mayor libby schaaf announced that if the warriors win the championship, the parade will be held in oakland, not nearby san francisco where the team is planning to move to.

if the warriors beat lebron james and the cleveland cavaliers, the victory parade will be in oakland (usatsi)

north american sports fans have a reputation for violently celebrating championships (or letting loose after losses) and oakland has a reputation for crazy fans & dangerous streets,  but warriors fan rosie taylor isn’t worried

we are not going to burn down the city of oakland. we are so proud that the warriors have made it [to the finals] after 40 years.

how many of the songs above do u recognize? which one is the best example? share your answers under leave a reply


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