Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
- honky-tonk - May come from the New England dialect word honk, "to idle about," and is a rhyming duplication.
- libberwort - Food or drink that makes one idle and stupid, food of no nutritional value, i.e. junk food.
- ignavia, ignavy - Idleness or sloth can be described as ignavia or ignavy.
- otiosity - Another word for leisure or idleness.
See Also: SITTING
- As peace is the end of war, so to be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy —Samuel Johnson
- Idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean —Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Idle as if in hospital —Sylvia Plath
- Idleness is a disease that must be combated —Samuel Johnson
- Idleness is like the nightmare; the moment you begin to stir yourself you shake it off —Punch, 1853
- Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen —Jerome K. Jerome
- An idler is a watch without both hands, as useless if it goes as when it stands —William Cowper
This is modified from the original which reads “A watch that wants both hands.”
- Indolent and shifting as men or tides —Kenneth Patchen
- A lazy man is like a filthy stone, everyone flees from its stench —The Holy Bible/Apocrypha
- Like lambs, you do nothing but suck, and wag your tails —Thomas Fuller
- (I’ve been) lying around like an old cigarette holder —Anton Chekhov See Also: LYING
- A slacker is just like custard pie, yellow all through but without crust enough to go over the top —Don Marquis
- Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used eye is always bright —H. G. Bohn’s Handbook of Proverbs
(See also INDOLENCE.)
bench warmer See SUBORDINATION.
boondoggle To engage in work of little or no practical value; to look busy while accomplishing nothing.
They boondoggled when there was nothing else to do on the ranch. (Chicago Tribune, October 4, 1935)
This U.S. slang term of uncertain origin gained currency in the 1930s with the proliferation of public-sector jobs created to combat the extensive unemployment of the Depression. As a noun the term is still primarily used for windfall government contracts awarded to appease certain constituencies despite the project’s questionable value. The boon of the term ‘a favor or gift freely bestowed’ clearly relates to its meaning, but the doggie element is puzzling. One source says that boondoggle is a Scottish word for a marble received as a gift, without having worked for it.
goldbrick A shirker, a loafer, a boondoggler a scrimshanker. This enlisted man’s term of disparagement for a second lieutenant appointed from civilian life probably derived from the gold bar insignia of these officers. Now this U.S. slang term is applied to military or civilian workers in sinecures, or to those who discharge their responsibilities in an inefficient or lackadaisical manner.
In the ranks, billeted with the stinking, cheating, foul-mouthed goldbricks, there were true heroes. (John Steinbeck, Once There Was War, 1958)
The slang use of this term dates from the early part of this century.
have lead in one’s pants To think or act very slowly or ponderously; to be lethargic, apathetic, or lazy. The implication here is that one whose pants are weighted down with lead moves very slowly. Several related expressions were used as commands during World War II and for several years thereafter, but are rarely heard today. These include get the lead out and get the lead out of one’s pants.
She knows I’m in imminent danger of dying of malnutrition unless she takes the lead out of her pants and gets a move on with that picture. (P.G. Wodehouse, Frozen Assets, 1964)
Mickey Mouse around See EVASIVENESS.
monkey around See MISCHIEF.
on the beach Unemployed; without a job. This American slang term originally referred to seamen out of work; either retired or unemployed. It is probably an extension of the verb to beach, ‘to haul [a ship] up on the shore or beach.’ The phrase appeared in 1903 in People of Abyss by J. London.
rest on one’s laurels See COMPLACENCY.
rest on one’s oars See RESPITE.
sit on one’s hands To do nothing, especially when the circumstances dictate that action be taken; to withhold applause or to applaud weakly. Originally a theater expression, sit on one’s hands implies that the people in an audience are so cold (i.e., unresponsive) that they are sitting on their hands for warmth, and are thus unable to applaud.
Well, they were sitting on their hands to-night, all right. Seemed they would never warm up. (Edna Ferber, Show Boat, 1926)
By extension then, sit on one’s hands is often applied figuratively to describe a person’s inactivity in a situation where action would be more appropriate.
twiddle one’s thumbs To idle away the time; to be extremely bored. This expression refers to the indolent pastime of playing with one’s own thumbs. The common phrase, while occasionally implying a state of involuntary inactivity, more often describes mere goofing off.
You’d have all the world do nothing half its time but twiddle its thumbs. (Douglas Jerrold, Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lecture, 1846)
|Noun||1.||idleness - having no employment |
inactivity - being inactive; being less active
dolce far niente - carefree idleness
|2.||idleness - the quality of lacking substance or value; "the groundlessness of their report was quickly recognized"|
|3.||idleness - the trait of being idle out of a reluctance to work|
"Idleness is the only refuge of weak minds" [Lord Chesterfield Letters to his Son]
to live a life of idleness → llevar una vida ociosa
she was frustrated by her enforced idleness → la desesperaba su forzada inactividad