To short / To burn out

Hello everyone,

In order to find out the difference betweeen these two verbs, after doing research I concluded that (in American English) ''to short'' is used when ''water, lightning, or a power outage causes an electric/electronic device to stop working - short-circuit'', and ''to burn out'' is used when ''an electric/electronic device is used too much or gets too hot''. I made up two examples below.

a. The power went out and came back on five times in less than an hour, and my TV shorted (out). Vs b. She used the hairdryer for a very long time at maximum power, and the hairdryer burned out.

My question: Am I correct in my conclusions?

* In Brazilian Portuguese, we have one word for both cases (literal: burn).

Thank you in advance!
 
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’m not familiar with “to burn out” meaning the same as to “short”, which is an abbreviation of short-circuit.

    From Merriam-Webster:

    short-circuit
    intransitive verb
    to become shunted by a short circuit
    The radio short-circuited.
     
    On Merriam-Webster Learner's, I found this. Maybe it's a regional thing.
    To short: to cause (something) to have a short circuit : short-circuit
    • The lightning shorted the TV.
    — often + outin U.S. English
    • Water shorted out the flashlight.
    2 [no object] : to stop working because of a short circuit : short-circuit
    • The hair dryer must have shorted.
    — often + out in U.S. English
    • The toaster oven shorted out.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    I can't answer for AE but I've never used the verb "short" like this before. I would say "my TV died" and "the hairdryer died".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I was happy to say that our steam iron shorted when water leaked from the tank, because the water created a short circuit and tripped the circuit breaker. If I drop a torch (flashlight) into a puddle and it stops working it might well be said to have shorted, but I wouldn't say "shorted out".
    It might damage it, but not by a short circuit.
    :thumbsup:
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I concluded that (in American English) ''to short'' is used when ''water, lightning, or a power outage causes an electric/electronic device to stop working - short-circuit''
    Not exactly.
    A short circuit occurs when the electricity is routed to an unintended place, and is not just caused by weather, etc.
    The list of possible causes include:​
    Rodents chewing on an electric cable​
    Children sticking something into an electrical outlet​
    Physical damage to an electrical appliance​
    Loose electrical connections​
    etc.
    Generally speaking, power outages don't cause short circuits when the power goes out, but when the power is restored, it results in a surge, which can damage electrical devices, causing short circuits.
    In the U.S. modern electrical wiring includes surge protectors.
    See also: Surge protector - Wikipedia
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    To short: to cause (something) to have a short circuit : short-circuit
    • The lightning shorted the TV.
    I haven't heard it used that way.
    • Water shorted out the flashlight.
    This one sounds natural in AE to me.


    2 [no object] : to stop working because of a short circuit : short-circuit
    • The hair dryer must have shorted.
    I haven't heard that usage in AE.
    • The toaster oven shorted out.
    This sounds better to me but I don't know if I would say it.

    Basically, I wouldn't use it as a verb without "out".
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    a. The power went out and came back on five times in less than an hour, and my TV shorted (out).

    As was said above, I'd probably just say "fried my TV". I don't know the specific cause. I might not have been a short.

    b. She used the hairdryer for a very long time at maximum power, and the hairdryer burned out.

    I would say the motor burned out. I would say that especially if there was an electrical burning smell. If it just stopped, I might just say it stopped working.
     
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