Browse Definitions :

Things you can do when you get to a bridge: Cross, burn or jump

Writing for Business

Which is correct?
We’ll _____ that bridge when we come to it.
a. cross
b. burn
c. jump off


Answer: It depends.

Explanation:
The standard expression is “cross that bridge when we come to it.” It means that you’ll deal with some potential event if and when it happens — it may not happen at all and if it does, it may be easier to see how to deal with it at that time.

“We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it” is considered to be a mixed metaphor/malaphor: an erroneous mixing of two metaphors. In this case, it’s a combination of “cross that bridge when one comes to it” and “to burn one’s bridges,” meaning to take an action that will eliminate some potential option. For example, if you toss your venti latte in the recruiter’s face at a job fair, you’re likely burning your bridges with that company. So if it may be necessary to decisively eliminate some option in the future, it would make sense to say you’ll burn that bridge when you come to it. I don’t think anyone does say that, mind you, but it would make perfect sense.

And then, of course, the other option is to jump. Site director Peggy Rouse occasionally says, when we’re discussing some deeply undesirable potential event, “Let’s jump off that bridge when we come to it.” Naturally, you don’t want to do it preemptively, as the undesirable event may never happen. And there hasn’t been anything that catastrophic yet. Should we come to the bridge we prefer not to cross, however, I picture us clasping hands like Thelma and Louise approaching that cliff and leaping. Unless we just decide to burn it instead.

So, anyway, what I’m saying is that I can see occasions for any of the three, depending on the particular bridge you’ve come to.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

Dig Deeper on Writing for Business

SearchCompliance
  • OPSEC (operations security)

    OPSEC (operations security) is a security and risk management process and strategy that classifies information, then determines ...

  • smart contract

    A smart contract is a decentralized application that executes business logic in response to events.

  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

SearchSecurity
  • security token

    A security token is a physical or digital device that provides two-factor authentication for a user to prove their identity in a ...

  • hardware security module (HSM)

    A hardware security module (HSM) is a physical device that provides extra security for sensitive data.

  • buffer overflow

    A buffer overflow occurs when a program or process attempts to write more data to a fixed-length block of memory, or buffer, than...

SearchHealthIT
SearchDisasterRecovery
  • What is risk mitigation?

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • change control

    Change control is a systematic approach to managing all changes made to a product or system.

  • disaster recovery (DR)

    Disaster recovery (DR) is an organization's ability to respond to and recover from an event that affects business operations.

SearchStorage
  • What is RAID 6?

    RAID 6, also known as double-parity RAID, uses two parity stripes on each disk. It allows for two disk failures within the RAID ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • VRAM (video RAM)

    VRAM (video RAM) refers to any type of random access memory (RAM) specifically used to store image data for a computer display.

Close