Primrose path

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For the 1934 film, see The Primrose Path (film). For the 1940 film, see Primrose Path (film). For the novel, see The Primrose Path.
Not to be confused with "led up the garden path", an idiom suggesting that one is being deceived or led astray.

The primrose path refers to a life of ease and pleasure, or to a course of action that seems easy and appropriate but can actually end in calamity.[1][2]

In popular culture[edit]

An early appearance of the phrase in print occurs in Shakespeare's 1602 play Hamlet (Act I, Scene III), where Ophelia, rebuffing her brother Laertes' insistence that she resist Hamlet's advances, warns Laertes against hypocrisy:[2]

Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,

Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads

And recks not his own rede.


  1. ^ "primrose path - definition by the Free Online Dictionary". Free Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  2. ^ a b "What's the origin of 'primrose path'?". The Straight Dope. 2001-08-23. Retrieved 2013-09-24.