idiomatic phrase: "no rest for the wicked"
July 13, 2012 7:55 AM   Subscribe

I've always assumed that "no rest for the wicked" was a bastardization of the phrase "no rest for the weary". But is it?

When people say "no rest for the wicked" I take them to be misusing or adapting the phrase "no rest for the weary". But maybe not? Are they both legitimate phrases? Where do they come from? Thanks much.
posted by facetious to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Isaiah 57 KJV

20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 8:02 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

No. But both legit. I also like to say "no rest for the righteous". Basically, no rest for anyone.
posted by Segundus at 8:20 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "No rest for the weary" is actually a corruption of "no rest for the wicked", interestingly enough.
posted by batmonkey at 8:24 AM on July 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

There is often rest for the weary. Most of the time, in fact. "No rest for the weary" implies a specific or unusual circumstance, like climbing Everest, when you must push on or die. "No rest for the wicked" is a more general invocation implying that those who have wronged us will be punished, thus relieving us of the burden of revenge. That is the more obvious aphorism.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:35 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

An interesting variation on this (don't know where it came from - just heard it in conversation once: "No rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need any." I got the impression that it was sort of an old farmwife type of saying. Anyway, I kind of like it.
posted by littlecatfeet at 10:58 AM on July 13, 2012

My great-grandmother used to say that (or so I was told): "There's no rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need it."

Which, when you unpack it, is a pretty harsh message: There's no rest, and if you feel tired you're a bad person. Sheesh.
posted by Lexica at 9:02 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought no rest for the wicked was somehow a reference to going to hell - i.e. if you are wicked you will go to hell where you will be a slave to the devil for all eternity (and I suspect Satan does not give rest breaks). Which might explain why the righteous won't need rest (because they won't go to hell and becoming slaves in the first place)?

Though TBH I have no idea where I got this idea from...!
posted by EatMyHat at 8:17 AM on July 14, 2012

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