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Definition of midnight oil. : diligent effort expended late at night or as if late at night — compare burn the midnight oil.What is the origin of the phrase 'burning the Midnight Oil'?
More recently, the phrase is used figuratively, alluding back its use before electric lighting. What's the origin of the phrase 'Burning the midnight oil'? The first person known to have referred to 'the midnight oil' in print was the English author Francis Quarles wrote in Emblemes, 1635:Is Burning the Midnight Oil good or bad?
While some advocate burning the midnight oil as to working hard, it can also be construed negatively, for not completing the task on hand in time, and working at the last hour to complete it. Also, it implies sleep deprivation, which is considered unhealthy. It was first written in the book ‘Emblemes’, by author Frances Quarles in 1635.