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The meaning and origin of the expression: No rest for the wicked

No rest for the wicked

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'No rest for the wicked'?

'No rest for the wicked has a literal meaning - that the wicked shall be tormented in Hell.

What's the origin of the phrase 'No rest for the wicked'?

The phrase was originally expressed as 'no peace for the wicked' and refers to the eternal torment of Hell that awaited sinners. Not surprisingly, the it derives from the Bible - Isaiah 57. The expression was first printed in English in Miles Coverdale's Bible, 1535:

20: But the wicked are like the raginge see, that ca not rest, whose water fometh with the myre & grauel.
21 Eueso ye wicked haue no peace, saieth my God.

The phrase appears in print periodically of the centuries, often with direct reference back to the biblical text. Its use in a figurative secular sense became much more common in the 1930s and it is now usually used for mild comic effect. The 1930s usage picked up after 1933 when Harold Gray used the phrase as a title for one of his highly popular Little Orphan Annie cartoons, which was syndicated in several US newspapers.

No rest for the wicked

See also: the List of Proverbs.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

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