no rest for the wicked

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From the Book of Isaiah verses 48:22 and 57:20-21, originally Hebrew. First attested in English in 1535, in Coverdale Bible of Miles Coverdale.[1] Quoted in biblical sense for centuries, humorous secular sense popularized from 1930s, particularly due to use as title of popular Little Orphan Annie strip by Harold Gray in 1933.[1]


no rest for the wicked

  1. (literally) Eternal torment in hell awaits sinners.
    • 1535, Miles Coverdale, Coverdale Bible, Book of Isaiah 57:20-21:
      20: But the wicked are like the raginge see, that ca not rest, whose water fometh with the myre & grauel.
      21: Eueso ye wicked haue no peace, saieth my God.
      20: But the wicked are like the raging sea, that cannot rest, whose water foams with the mire & gravel.
      21: ? you wicked have no peace, says my God.
  2. (humorous) People who are wicked must work harder than normal people.

Usage notes[edit]

Primarily used today for mild comic effect,[1] meaning “one must work (particularly because one has been lax)”, as in Annie usage.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 No rest for the wicked”, The Phrase Finder, Gary Martin.