Fwd: Give me some leadway!

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sun May 21 18:08:33 UTC 2006

originally sent, by digital misadventure, only to michael quinion:

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at csli.stanford.edu>
> Date: May 21, 2006 11:00:52 AM PDT
> To: wordseditor at worldwidewords.org
> Subject: Re: Give me some leadway!
> On May 21, 2006, at 10:42 AM, Michael Quinion wrote:
>>> 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.
> "wicked" wins handily in raw google webhits, 418,000 to 190,000.
> more important. however, is this from Isaiah 57:21 (no, i don't
> have bible verses memorized; i found this via a google search):
> ... no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
> the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms gives the idiom as
> "no peace/rest for the wicked" (though without the biblical
> verse).  no listing for the "weary" version that i can find.
> in general, "authorities" seem to be inclined to cite it according
> to which version they find most natural, as here:
> ------
> The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition.  2002.
> No rest for the weary
> You must keep persevering no matter how tired or overworked you are.
> ‡ A variant is “no rest for the wicked,” which implies that the
> devil will not allow his followers to rest from their evil doings.
> -----
> there's no scholarship here (shame on you, E.D. Hirsch et al.!),
> just the implicit claim that the "weary" version is original, the
> "wicked" version a variant.  in light of Isaiah i very much doubt
> that.
> arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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