the devil finds work for idle hands to do

Idleness and mischief are linked in ST. JEROME Letters CXXV. xi. fac et aliquid operis, ut semper te diabolus inveniat occupatum, do something, so that the devil may always find you busy; cf. c 1386 CHAUCER Tale of Melibee 1. 1594 Therfore seith Seint Jerome: ‘Dooth somme goode dedes that the devel, which is oure enemy, ne fynde yow nat unocupied.’

1715 I. WATTS Divine Songs 29 In Works of Labour or of Skill I would be busy too: For Satan finds some mischief still for idle Hands to do.

1721 J. KELLY Scottish Proverbs 221 If the Devil find a Man idle, he’ll set him on Work.

1792 M. WOLLSTONECRAFT Vindication of Rights of Woman ix. There is a homely proverb, which speaks a shrewd truth, that whoever the devil finds idle he will employ... What but habitual idleness can hereditary wealth and titles produce?

1941 A. UPDEGRAFF Hills look Down iv. Better keep busy, and the devil won’t find so much for your idle hands to do.

1997 Spectator 1 Nov. 25 There is potential for such a large new intake to become bored. We all know who makes work for idle hands.

2002 Washington Times 14 Mar. D6 (Crock comic strip) ‘I’ve slaved in your salt mines for twenty years without a day off.’ ‘You can have thirty minutes off.’ ‘Why didn’t you give the poor soul more time off?’ ‘Idle hands work for the devil, Poulet.’


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  • the devil finds work for idle hands to do — ► the devil finds work for idle hands to do proverb if someone doesn t have enough work to occupy them, they are liable to cause or get into trouble. Main Entry: ↑devil …   English terms dictionary

  • (the) devil finds work for idle hands. — something that you say which means people who have no work or activity are more likely to do things they should not do, such as commit crimes. There s plenty more tidying to do if you ve finished the bedroom. The devil finds work for idle hands …   New idioms dictionary

  • (the) devil finds work for idle hands — the devil makes/finds/work for idle hands phrase used for saying that people who are bored or do not have enough work will start doing things that they should not do Thesaurus: morally bad or wrong behavioursynonym Main entry: devil …   Useful english dictionary

  • the devil finds work for idle hands to do — proverb someone who doesn t have enough work to do is liable to cause or get into trouble …   Useful english dictionary

  • (the) devil makes work for idle hands — the devil makes/finds/work for idle hands phrase used for saying that people who are bored or do not have enough work will start doing things that they should not do Thesaurus: morally bad or wrong behavioursynonym Main entry: devil * * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • devil finds work for idle hands — When people say that the devil finds work for idle hands, they mean that if people don t have anything to do with their time, they are more likely to get involved in trouble and criminality …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • devil finds work for idle hands —    When people say that the devil finds work for idle hands, they mean that if people don t have anything to do with their time, they are more likely to get involved in trouble and criminality.   (Dorking School Dictionary) …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • Devil finds work for idle hands —   When people say that the devil finds work for idle hands, they mean that if people don t have anything to do with their time, they are more likely to get involved in trouble and criminality …   Dictionary of English idioms

  • an idle brain is the devil’s workshop — Recent US usage appears to conflate this proverb with the devil finds work for idle hands to do (see quot. 2001). a 1602 W. PERKINS Works (1603) 906 The idle bodie and the idle braine is the shoppe [workshop] of the deuill. 1732 T. FULLER… …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Deals with the Devil in popular culture — The idea of making a deal with the Devil has appeared many times in works of popular culture. Contents 1 In print 2 In film 3 In music 4 In television …   Wikipedia

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