no rest for the weary

Discussion in 'English Only' started by gemajiangjun, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. gemajiangjun Member

    Hello everyone! Anyone who knows the origin of "No rest for the weary" ? According to what I found in Google, it's already a cliché. Where was it first used?
  2. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    "No rest for the wicked" comes from the Book of Isaiah, 48:22

    "No rest for the weary" is of uncertain origin, but probably arose simply as a modification of the above; either accidental through ignorance, or else intentional. In either case the acuteness of the Biblical message has been lost and replaced with a fairly trite observation.
  3. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English

    I was about to speculate similarly as I don't believe I've ever heard the 'expression' "no rest for the weary".
  4. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    It seems to be a milder variant on “no rest for the wicked,” which is derived from the Bible.

    Isa:57:20: But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
    Isa:57:21: There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

    which message is repeated in

    Re:14:11: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

    just in case you had forgotten it. :rolleyes:
  5. gemajiangjun Member

    Thank you all very much. I knew that "No rest for the weary" propably came from "No rest for the wicked" but I didn't know this is from the Bible. I am not a Christian but maybe as an English learner I should know the Book better.
  6. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
    If you care to study the Bible, but are not particularly interested in Christianity as a potential religion for yourself (or even for a Christian who wishes to understand the book itself, as opposed to the Holy Writ), you might want to Google [ bible as literature ]. This will get you links that may help.

    Certainly the Bible is the source of a great many of the allusions that pepper the English language, such as "No rest for the wicked".
  7. DocPenfro

    DocPenfro Senior Member

    Little England
    English - British
    I suggest that "no rest for the weary" might have arisen, as a somewhat self-pitying variation of the original, in order to apply the expression to oneself or friends and family, since it might have been considered impious or offensive to refer to them as "the wicked".

    I recommend reading the Bible in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (or similar) version. The same goes for Shakespeare. You get all of the best bits and none of the padding.
  8. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I was going to say that I'd never heard of 'no rest for the weary' before and speculate that it could be a creative alteration of 'no rest for the wicked'. However, I see it's listed in

    and the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs:
    which suggests that it is more established than I thought. Perhaps it is more common in AE?

    (I must say that I think's note on 'no rest for the wicked' is definitely very dodgy.)
  9. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    I think it's quite common in AE. (And I agree that the note is dodgy.)

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