0
\$\begingroup\$

I often read/hear that "my device is burnt" or "... component is burnt due to over voltage" or ".. ESD (board) is burnt when I hold it" etc.

I wonder why "burn" is used to describe it? Is something really burns or is it just a term to describe that the component/device cannot be used anymore as something burns?

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes software crashes (and burns) but it doesn't really \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Jul 11, 2013 at 12:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Nitpick: "burnt" on its own sounds odd to me, I'd normally say "burnt out". \$\endgroup\$
    – pjc50
    Jul 11, 2013 at 12:33

2 Answers 2

2
\$\begingroup\$

In English, "burnt" is often used loosely to indicate a part got damaged by something excessive done to it, not necessarily actual combustion. It can also be said that a part is "toast", "got fried", "smoked", and a few others. These expressions are not meant to be taken literally.

In most cases, damage to electronic parts due to excessive current or voltage results from the excessive heat caused locally, but not always. Even so, this heat is rarely due to combustion, just heat from current times voltage.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have a couple of times seen resistors that were "Burnt" as in black, smoke comming off them and pieces missing. The sensible person turns the power off at this point and goes looking for why this happened and not just sticking a new PCB in and hope this time it wont happen. \$\endgroup\$
    – Spoon
    Jul 11, 2013 at 12:35
1
\$\begingroup\$

Although "burnt" can definitely be used with there's just a soft failure (ESD or something that is invisible or under a plastic application), the device can CERTAINLY burn. As in, crater inside, explode and set fire to things.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ask me about the (ex-)JFET one day... \$\endgroup\$ Jul 11, 2013 at 20:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.