All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

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"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is a proverb that means without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. It is often shortened to "all work and no play".[1]


Though the spirit of the proverb had been expressed previously, the modern saying first appeared in James Howell's Proverbs (1659).[2][3][4] It has often been included in subsequent collections of proverbs and sayings.[5]

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

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.


  1. ^ "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Retrieved 2023-11-24.
  2. ^ Howell, James (1659). Paroimiographia. Proverbs, or, old Sayed Sawes & Adages in English (or the Saxon Toung) Italian, French and Spanish whereunto the British, for their great antiquity and weight are added. London: Samuel Thomson. It is found on page 12 of the section titled Proverbs, or Old Sayed-Sawes, and Adages in the English Toung. Howell's Proverbs is bound with Howell's Lexicon Tetraglotton (1660).
  3. ^ Howell, James (1660). Lexicon Tetraglotton, an English-French-Italian-Spanish Dictionary. London: Samuel Thomson. : Whereunto is adjoined a large Nomenclature of the proper Terms (in all the four) belonging to several Arts and Sciences, to Recreations, to Professions both Liberal and Mechanick, &c. divided into Fiftie two Sections; with another Volume of the Choicest Proverbs in all the said Toungs, (consisting of divers compleat Tomes) ...
  4. ^ "work, n.", Oxford English Dictionary (3 ed.), Oxford University Press, 2023-03-02, doi:10.1093/oed/2591891995, retrieved 2023-11-24
  5. ^ "James Howell Quotes and Quotations". Famous Quotes and Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-21.