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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).
- IDLENESS, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promotes the growth of staple vices.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- There is, however, nothing wanting to the idleness of a philosopher but a better name, and that meditation, conversation, and reading should be called “work.”
- Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères (1688), "Du mérite personnel", Aphorism 12.
- For idleness is an appendix to nobility.
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section II. Memb. 2. Subsect. 6.
- An idler is a watch that wants both hands;
As useless if it goes as when it stands.
- William Cowper, Retirement (1782), Line 681.
- How various his employments whom the world
Calls idle; and who justly in return
Esteems that busy world an idler too!
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book III. The Garden, line 342.
- Thus idly busy rolls their world away.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller (1764), line 256.
- 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.
- Haidakhan Babaji, The Teachings of Babaji, 17 November 1983.
- 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.
- God loves an idle rainbow,
No less than laboring seas.
- Ralph Hodgson, Three Poems, as quoted in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 655
- On n’est pas inoccupé parce qu’on est absorbé. Il y a le labeur visible et le labeur invisible.
- If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.
- Samuel Johnson, Letter to James Boswell, October 27, 1779, p. 433
- Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.
- John Lubbock, The Use of Life (1894)
- The worst idleness is that of the heart. Think of the condition and prospects of a voiceless, thankless, prayerless heart.
- Elias Lyman Magoon, in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 346
- 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.
- Leisure is permissible, we understand, because it costs money; idleness is not, because it doesn’t. Leisure is focused; whatever thinking it requires is absorbed by a certain task: sinking that putt, making that cast, watching that flat-screen TV. Idleness is unconstrained, anarchic. Leisure—particularly if it involves some kind of high-priced technology—is as American as a Fourth of July barbecue. Idleness, on the other hand, has a bad attitude. It doesn’t shave; it’s not a member of the team; it doesn’t play well with others. It thinks too much, as my high school coach used to say. So it has to be ostracized.
- Mark Slouka, “Quitting the paint factory: On the virtues of idleness,” Harper’s, November 2004
- Just now, when every one is bound, under pain of a decree in absence convicting them of lèse-respectability, to enter on some lucrative profession, and labour therein with something not far short of enthusiasm, a cry from the opposite party, who are content when they have enough
- Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself.
- 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.
- James Thomson, Castle of Indolence (1748), Canto I, St. 72.
- To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse.
- Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle (1863)
- No, the enjoyment of an idle life doesn't cost any money. The capacity for true enjoyment of idleness is lost in the moneyed class and can be found only among people who have a supreme contempt for wealth. It must come from an inner richness of the soul in a man who loves the simple ways of life and who is somewhat impatient with the business of making money.
- Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living (1937), p. 155
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- 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.
- Hosea Ballou, Manuscript, Sermons.
- 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.
- An idle life always produces varied inclinations.
- Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Pharsalia, IV. 704.
- The frivolous work of polished idleness.
- Sir James Mackintosh, Dissertation on Ethical Philosophy, Remarks on Thomas Brown.
- 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.
- L'indolence est le sommeil des esprits.
- Indolence is the sleep of the mind.
- Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues, Réflexions, 390.
- 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.
- Sir Aubrey de Vere, A Song of Faith, Devout Exercises, and Sonnets.
- For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.
- Isaac Watts, Against Idleness.
- '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.
- Isaac Watts, The Sluggard.
- 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?
- William Wordsworth, Resolution and Independence, Stanza 6.
- Worldlings revelling in the fields
Of strenuous idleness.
- William Wordsworth, This Lawn, a Carpet all alive.