blow [intransitive, transitive] to be moved by the wind, somebody’s breath, etc.; to move something in this way

  • adv./prep. My hat blew off.

  • adj. The door blew open.

blow somebody/something + adv./prep.
I was almost blown over by the wind.
She blew the dust off the book.
The ship was blown onto the rocks.
The bomb blast blew two passers-by across the street.

blow something + adj.
The wind blew the door shut.

I want to use the structure "blow something + preposition" with "the candles", but I don't know the preposition that express "to make a fire stop burning".

  1. off (preposition) down or away from a place or at a distance in space or time
  • I fell off the ladder.
  • Keep off the grass!
  1. used to say that something has been removed
  • You need to take the top off the bottle first!
  • I want about an inch off the back of my hair.
  1. away from work or duty
  • He's had ten days off school.

"off" is a preposition, but the dictionary doesn't say anything about fire, I also think about the adjective "extinguished", but it sounds bizarre.

Can we say "to blow the candles off" or "extinguished"?


4 Answers 4


Extinguish is the verb that means to cause a fire or light to cease to burn or shine.

The fire brigade extinguished the fire.

"Put out" is a more casual, and possibly wider-used way of saying the same thing.

I put out the fire.

These can refer to almost any method of extinguishing a fire, such as smothering it, using water, or a fire-extinguisher.

"Blow out" is the idiomatic way of stating that a fire has extinguished by a sudden gust of air. This is most commonly used when people blow out a candle with their own breath, but it can also happen to a fire in a fireplace if a gust of wind suddenly comes down the chimney. It would be very unusual for this to happen to a large fire.

He blew out the candles on his birthday cake.

  • 1
    So much better answer than mine, it makes me want to delete it. hahaha Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 13:23

Do you really have/want/need to go with the verb to blow? A good way to say is

to put out: to stop something that is burning from continuing to burn.

Be sure to put out your campfire before you go to sleep.

Still, if you must use to blow, you'd have to say to blow the candles out, not off.

  • No - with blow it's out, not off (also blow out the candles, never blow off the candles). Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 13:18
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica You're right, just did the research. Thanks! Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 13:19
  • 1
    No it isn't - it's blow out, the same as put out. A fire has gone out when it has used up all its fuel and stopped burning. Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 13:19
  • @KateBunting just corrected the answer. Thanks! Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 13:20

A century ago you'd have been far more likely to snuff the candle, rather than blow it out...

enter image description here

But as you can see from this chart, although snuff has declined considerably, you should double the prevalence implied by the above chart, because for the past half-century, snuff is as likely as not to be followed by out. Nothing like that applies with blow, which is almost always followed by out in this sense.

Of course, many if not most candles today are birthday cake candles, where half the fun is blowing them out while making a wish. But obviously in Victorian and earlier times, candles were for illumination. In such contexts, using a candle snuffer would be far more practical.

  • Oh please, everyone says blow out the candles., Try these two: blow out the candle, put out the candle. Also, ngrams does not show speech per se.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 14 at 18:31
  • What's your point? My chart clearly shows that candles were more likely to be snuffed (out) than blown out until a century or so ago. And lots of learners read Victorian texts, so they might wish to know why what they find there doesn't correspond to anything on existing answers to this question. I just searched the page and failed to find the word snuff at all, so I thought (still think) this answer is worth posting. Not to mention which, rightly or wrongly, some learners may have misgivings about blow. Commented Apr 14 at 18:43
  • Oh dear, I missed the century ago. Apologies.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 14 at 18:44

What is the verbal phrase for "making a candle stop burning"?

The following are all valid, and roughly in order of how often they are used:

1. Blow out

"You can blow out the candles now."

2. Put out

"You can put out the candles now."

*(Note: While the meaning above is understandable, this term is more commonly used for larger sources of fire.) * Ex:

"The firefighters put out the house fire." OR 
"Before leaving, the campers completely put out the campfire."

3. Extinguish

"You can extinguish the candles now."

4. Snuff

"You can snuff out the candles now."

(Note: This should also be understood by most people, but this term sounds somewhat awkward as a command since in modern usage it more commonly appears as a description.) Ex:

"The man quickly snuffed out the candle with his fingers."

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