Give me some leadway!

Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Sun May 21 17:42:05 UTC 2006

> Perhaps this isn't an eggcorn, but I often hear (and admittedly use)
> "no rest for the wicked" for "no rest for the weary."  I'm not a
> googler, but are both common?  And which was the original, if that can
> be determined?

I'd argue for "wicked", because that was the version my old dad used about
50 years ago in west London when he was dragged from his armchair by some
need for immediate domestic action. The OED has its first example from
1935, but that's easily antedated by a century. The Huron Reflector of 2
Oct. 1832 has: "We soon reached the jungle, dashed through a path that had
been recently cleared with a cutlass, or bill-hook, for the twigs were
freshly shred, and in about ten minutes reached the high wood.- However,
no rest for the wicked, although the row seemed lessening now." However,
I've found an example of the other dated 1871, so that's pretty old, too.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: wordseditor at

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