Run out of Steam (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Run out of Steam"?

The term "run out of steam" means to be completely out of energy.
Run out of Steam (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • I'd love to keep going, but I've run out of steam.
  • Dexter has run out of steam. You might have to carry him home.
  • He started enthusiastically, but it looks like he's running out of steam.
The term "to run out of steam" originates from the USA in the late 19th century. It refers to a steam engine slowing and eventually stopping as its fire cools and produces less steam. Nowadays, it is used almost entirely figuratively with steam being a synonym for energy or drive.

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