run on fumes (third-person singular simple present runs on fumes, present participle running on fumes, simple past ran on fumes, past participle run on fumes)
- (automotive) To operate a vehicle that is low on fuel.
- We were running on fumes by the time we arrived, but we made it to the next gas station.
- (idiomatic) By extension, to operate with few resources or little money.
- The organization had been running on fumes for months, so it's not surprising that they closed their doors.