Lets say, I want to tell my roommate that one of the lightbulbs has stopped working, I usually say

The light bulb is gone or broken down.

I did some search related to these expression and it seems that they are not very common and will sound odd to the natives.


8 Answers 8


In the U.S., at least, it's not uncommon to hear:

The light bulb is burned out.

The expression can be found in writing sometimes, too.

  • 1
    Is that "is burned out", or "has burned out" or "is burnt out"? For some reason "is burned out" sounds wrong to me.
    – user541686
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 10:10
  • 1
    +1. We can complain that a light bulb has burned out much sooner than advertised. Once it has burned out, we can say that it is burned out.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:14

I'm also in the U.S., and I agree with J.R.'s answer, but I also find myself saying:

The [light] bulb went out.

"Went out" is more general, so you can say "the lights went out" during a power outage even if the bulbs are still fine, but if I say a bulb went out, it usually means I need to replace that particular bulb.

  • Out of curiosity, is this expression correct 'the lightbulb went off?'
    – Max
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 19:38
  • 1
    Confusingly, "went off" can mean "turned on". The phrase "a light bulb went off (in my head)" literally means "a light bulb turned on in my head" and figuratively means "suddenly, I understand" or "suddenly, a great idea has occurred to me". This use of "went off" can also be seen in "my alarm clock went off" (meaning: my alarm clock just rang).
    – user230
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Thor: When talking about light bulbs, off would imply "switched off" – meaning the bulb still works but the lamp just isn't on any more. On the other hand, out implies "out of order" – meaning the bulb needs to be replaced. Maybe this isn't always true, but, as a generality, I believe it would hold true rather often.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 23:26

I'm in the UK and the most common expression I hear (and use) is that "the bulb has blown". I'm not sure why we say this, when it doesn't really blow, it just burns out, but it seems pretty common around here (NW England).

  • 2
    That expression is not as common in the U.S., but it's still used, particularly at that moment when the light goes out: "Wow! Did you see that! That light just blew!" So, either would be understandable.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 9:31
  • 1
    This is also the most common form of expression in Australian English. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 8:19

As a native speaker of British English, I'd say The bulb's gone.

  • 10
    In the US if you said, "the bulb's gone" I'd wonder who took it. I'd probably say, "the bulb's blown."
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 19:29
  • 1
    @Jim. Wouldn't the situation make it clear whether or not someone had taken it? Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 19:42
  • 8
    I suppose. I'd go into the room, see the bulb and say, "It's not gone, it's just blown" and go get a new one.
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 19:48
  • Yeah, "the bulb's gone" is common in BrEng, as Google can confirm.
    – A E
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 19:49

I'm from the U.S. and have heard multiple ways used commonly. If you are holding a light bulb that no longer works because the filament is broken you could say:

This light bulb is burned out.

This light bulb is blown out.

This light bulb is dead.

If someone wants me to fix a light that won't turn on, they'd typically point at it and say:

That light bulb burned out!

That light bulb has blown out!

That light bulb has died!

That light bulb went out!

Typically I am in a better mood if they say "Would you fix it, please?" afterward. I've heard "...has burned out" and "...died" with about the same frequency, but "...blew out" seems less common. Also, "That light bulb went out!" is common, but I've rarely heard it used to describe the broken state of the bulb, "This light bulb went out." makes sense to me, but "This light bulb is gone out." or some other similar construction for the present-tense would seem unusual to me.


I am 42 years old and from the east of England. I would say the light bulb has "fused".

I learned English from people born before the 2nd world war in general. People used to say "fused" because of the similar mode of failure. A old fashioned light bulb and a fuse share a lot on common. Both have a fine wire encased in a sheath. Both fail in a similar way. The wire breaks inside. Hence fused.

Sometimes light bulbs do shatter when they fail. In that case it would be more appropriate to say the bulb has blown. When light bulbs shatter as the failure mode then there has probably been a power surge.

If you are interested I can tell you more about tungsten light bulbs and old style wire fuses.


The bulb's (has) fused!

This is what I've always heard and used. 'blown' sounds strange and american. I supose 'the bulb has gone/the bulb went' needs some thought before being understood.


If you want to be technically correct, you could say:

The bulb has fused (or)

The bulb's fuse has blown out

  • 2
    I would call it the bulb's filament, not its fuse. I'm not sure where this might be a good answer, but it would get you some odd looks where I'm from – unless maybe you were talking about the circuit breaker panel.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 16:31
  • Hmm... I think you're right that it is technically accurate, if the light bulb includes a fuse and if that is the particular mode of failure for the bulb in question. (Of course, there are many types of bulbs.)
    – user230
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 3:19
  • 2
    If a filament has burned out, then it is no longer fused. It has unfused. It is the opposite of fused.
    – Dangph
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 8:48

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