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Archiver > GENIRE > 1999-09 > 0938483582

From: Brian Wickham< >
Subject: Re: Life of Riley
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 01:53:02 GMT

On 27 Sep 1999 22:32:39 GMT, "Daryl" <> wrote:

>Living the life of Riley.
>Where does this saying come from?.
>Regards Julie

I'm pretty sure that the phrase did not originate with the
radio show in 1943. Just like everything else in pop entertainment,
they took a common phrase and turned it around for the purposes of the
The phrase means - having it easy, with everything being done
for you. If you are in the hammock and the kids are doing the yard
work then you are leading the "life of Riley."
In the radio show Riley had it anything but easy. He always
ran into some minor difficulty that he managed to turn into a major
crises. At this point he would say the catch phrase, "What a
revoltin' development!" He was a blue collar, working class, Archie
Bunker kind of guy (minus the bigotry) who had trouble at the plant,
at home, and with his neighbors. Life was a trial, hardly, "The Life
of Riley."
That being said, I haven't a clue as to where the phrase
originated. It isn't covered by H.L. Mencken in "The American
Language" but it may be in slang dictionaries. It could also be an
Army slang phrase. The perfect description would be the private who
always avoids duty while everyone else is cleaning the latrines. No
one can figure out how he does it but he leads "The Life of Riley."

Brian Wickham

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