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act of nothing or no work

Idleness is the state of being idle or inactive, either out of laziness or out of a lack of useful things to do.


  • La molesse est douce, et sa suite est cruelle.
    • Idleness is sweet, and its consequences are cruel.
    • Attributed to John Quincy Adams, in his diary. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • For idleness is an appendix to nobility.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section II. Memb. 2. Subsect. 6.
  • The loafer believes he is enjoying life, but sooner or later he must face disillusion.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2014, p. 33.
  • An idler is a watch that wants both hands;
    As useless if it goes as when it stands.
  • How various his employments whom the world
    Calls idle; and who justly in return
    Esteems that busy world an idler too!
  • Thus idly busy rolls their world away.
  • You must generate energy in order to exist. Everyone must always be working hard. You should never cultivate inaction here. There is no use to be dead weight to the Earth. Whatever wars were fought during the past centuries were only to relieve the world of the dead weight of idleness.
  • What heart can think, or tongue express,
    The harm that groweth of idleness?
    • John Heywood, "Idleness" (circa 1576), as reproduced in Samuel Orchart Beeton and William Michael Rossetti, Encyclopaedia of English and American Poetry, Vol. 1 (1873), No. 400.
  • Gloomy calm of idle vacancy.
  • Thee too, my Paridel! she mark'd thee there,
    Stretch'd on the rack of a too easy chair,
    And heard thy everlasting yawn confess
    The Pains and Penalties of Idleness.
  • I rather would entreat thy company,
    To see the wonders of the world abroad
    Than living, dully sluggardized at home,
    Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.
  • Utque alios industria, ita hunc ignavia ad famam protulerat.
    • Other men have acquired fame by industry, but this man by indolence.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), XVI. 18.
  • Their only labour was to kill the time;
    And labour dire it is, and weary woe,
    They sit, they loll, turn o'er some idle rhyme,
    Then, rising sudden, to the glass they go,
    Or saunter forth, with tottering steps and slow.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 384-85.
  • Idleness is emptiness; the tree in which the sap is stagnant, remains fruitless.
  • Diligenter per vacuitatem suam.
    • In the diligence of his idleness.
    • Book of Wisdom, XIII. 13. (Vulgate LXX).
  • Strenua nos exercet inertia.
    • Busy idleness urges us on.
    • Horace, Epistles, Book I, XI. 28. Same idea in Phædrus, Fables, II. V. 3: Seneca—De Brevitate Vitæ, Chapter XIII and XV.
  • Vitanda est improba syren—desidia.
    • That destructive siren, sloth, is ever to be avoided.
    • Horace, Satires, II. 3. 14.
  • Variam semper dant otia mentem.
  • The frivolous work of polished idleness.
  • Cernis ut ignavum corrumpant otia corpus
    Ut capiant vitium ni moveantur aquæ.
    • Thou seest how sloth wastes the sluggish body, as water is corrupted unless it moves.
    • Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, I. 5. 5.
  • Difficultas patrocinia præteximus segnitiæ.
    • We excuse our sloth under the pretext of difficulty.
    • Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria, I. 12.
  • Blandoque veneno
    Desidiæ virtus paullatim evicta senescit.
    • Valor, gradually overpowered by the delicious poison of sloth, grows torpid.
    • Silius Italicus, Punica, III. 580.
  • There is no remedy for time misspent;
    No healing for the waste of idleness,
    Whose very languor is a punishment
    Heavier than active souls can feel or guess.
  • For Satan finds some mischief still
    For idle hands to do.
  • 'Tis the voice of the sluggard, I heard him complain:
    "You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again";
    As the door on its hinges, so he on his bed,
    Turns his sides, and his shoulders and his heavy head.
  • But how can he expect that others should
    Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
    Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?
  • Worldlings revelling in the fields
    Of strenuous idleness.

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