C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Disciplined inaction.


Stagnant satisfaction!

Samuel Smiles.

Idleness is the holiday of fools.


Idleness is the sepulchre of a living man.

J. G. Holland.

An idler is a watch that wants both lands.


A poor idle man cannot be an honest man.

Achilles Poincelot.

How sweet and sacred idleness is!


Lost time is never found again.


I live an idle burden to the ground.


Idleness is paralysis.

Roswell D. Hitchcock.

To do nothing is in every man’s power.


Idleness is the key of beggary.


An idle man’s brain is the devil’s workshop.


The ruin of most men dates from some idle moment.


Idleness is the nurse of naughtiness.

Robert Burton.

Sluggish idleness—the nurse of sin.


Doing nothing with a deal of skill.


In idleness there is perpetual despair.


Enjoyment stops where indolence begins.


Watch, for the idleness of the soul approaches death.


Idleness is emptiness; the tree in which the sap is stagnant, remains fruitless.

Hosea Ballou.

Some people have a perfect genius for doing nothing, and doing it assiduously.


  • Absence of occupation is not rest,
  • A mind quite vacant is a mind distress’d.
  • Cowper.

    I look upon indolence as a sort of suicide.


    There is really nothing left to a genuine idle man, who possesses any considerable degree of vital power, but sin.

    J. G. Holland.

    If idleness do not produce vice or malevolence, it commonly produces melancholy.

    Sydney Smith.

    To be idle is the ultimate purpose of the busy.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Give time to the Evil One, and you give him all he requires.


    Idleness is both a great sin, and the cause of many more.


  • As idle as a painted ship
  • Upon a painted ocean.
  • Coleridge.

    Every hour of lost time is a chance of future misfortune.

    Napoleon I.

    Is there anything so wretched as to look at a man of fine abilities doing nothing?


  • Satan finds some mischief still
  • For idle hands to do.
  • Watts.

    I pity the man overwhelmed with the weight of his own leisure.


    Idleness is more an infirmity of the mind than of the body.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Drones suck not eagles’ blood, but rob beehives.


    Stagnation is something worse than death, it is corruption also.


    Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.


    Idleness is the stupidity of the body, and stupidity the idleness of the mind.


    He is not only idle who does nothing, but he is idle who might be better employed.


    Idleness is an inlet to disorder, and makes way for licentiousness. People that have nothing to do are quickly tired of their own company.

    Jeremy Collier.

    Idleness is many gathered miseries in one name.


    Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs, and ends in iron chains. The more business a man has to do, the more he is able to accomplish; for he learns to economize his time.

    Judge Hale.

    Idleness travels very slowly, and poverty soon overtakes her.


    Indolent people, whatever taste they may have for society, seek eagerly for pleasure, and find nothing. They have an empty head and seared hearts.


  • 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.

    Too much idleness, I have observed, fills up a man’s time more completely and leaves him less his own master, than any sort of employment whatsoever.


    So long as idleness is quite shut out from our lives, all the sins of wantonness, softness, and effeminacy are prevented; and there is but little room for temptation.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    The idle man stands outside of God’s plan, outside of the ordained scheme of things; and the truest self-respect, the noblest independence, and the most genuine dignity, are not to be found there.

    J. G. Holland.

    Idleness is a constant sin, and labor is a duty. Idleness is the devil’s home for temptation, and for unprofitable, distracting musings; while labor profiteth others and ourselves.


    If you ask me which is the real hereditary sin of human nature, do you imagine I shall answer pride or luxury or ambition or egotism? No; I shall say indolence. Who conquers indolence will conquer all the rest. Indeed, all good principles must stagnate without mental activity.


    To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches; and therefore every man endeavors with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.


    He that embarks in the voyage of life will always wish to advance, rather by the impulse of the wind than the strokes of the oar; and many founder in their passage while they lie waiting for the gale.


    Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy; and he that riseth late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night; while laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.


    What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more. Sure, he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capability and godlike reason to fust in us unused.


    Rather do what is nothing to the purpose than be idle; that the devil may find thee doing. The bird that sits is easily shot, when fliers scape the fowler. Idleness is the Dead Sea that swallows all the virtues, and the self-made sepulchre of a living man.


    Idleness is the grand Pacific Ocean of life, and in that stagnant abyss the most salutary things produce no good, the most noxious no evil. Vice, indeed, abstractedly considered, may be, and often is engendered in idleness; but the moment it becomes efficiently vice, it must quit its cradle and cease to be idle.


    In such a world as ours the idle man is not so much a biped as a bivalve; and the wealth which breeds idleness, of which the English peerage is an example, and of which we are beginning to abound in specimens in this country, is only a sort of human oyster bed, where heirs and heiresses are planted, to spend a contemptible life of slothfulness in growing plump and succulent for the grave-worms’ banquet.

    Horace Mann.

    Idleness is the badge of the gentry, the bane of body and mind, the nurse of naughtiness, the stepmother of discipline, the chief author of all mischief, one of the seven deadly sins, the cushion upon which the devil chiefly reposes, and a great cause not only of melancholy, but of many other diseases; for the mind is naturally active, and, if it is not occupied about some honest business, it rushes into mischief or sinks into melancholy.


    Time, with all its celerity, moves slowly on to him whose whole employment is to watch its flight.

    Dr. Johnson.

    If you are idle, you are on the road to ruin; and there are few stopping-places upon it. It is rather a precipice than a road.


    The bees can abide no drones amongst them; but as soon as they begin to be idle, they kill them.