All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is a proverb. It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. The exact origins of the phrase remain unclear, though it was recorded as early as 1659.


Though the spirit of the proverb had been expressed previously, the modern saying appeared first in James Howell's Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659),[1] and was included in later collections of proverbs. It also appears in Howell's Paroimiographia (1659), p. 12.

Some writers have added a second part to the proverb, as in Harry and Lucy Concluded (1825) by the Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth:

Uses in popular media[edit]

The proverb has been used widely throughout popular media, notably including James Joyce's short story "Araby" to Jack Kerouac's Big Sur, the 1933 Laurel & Hardy film Sons of the Desert, the 1957 movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, and the 1980 horror movie The Shining,[2] directed by Stanley Kubrick. In Kubrick's film the main character, Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), is found to have abandoned the play he was writing in favor of typing this sentence over and over onto reams of paper. A number of other works have subsequently included a direct homage to the scene.[3]


  1. ^ "JamHowell Quotes and Quotations". Famous Quotes and Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  2. ^ "Film Script, The Shining". p. 107.
  3. ^ "Movie connections for The Shining (1980)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-01-21.