Quotations about   laziness

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On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

[At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum [On the Ends of Good and Evil], Book 1, sec. 33 (ch. 10) (44 BC) [tr. Rackham (1914)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Then again we criticize and consider wholly deserving of our odium those who are so seduced and corrupted by the blandishments of immediate pleasure that they fail to foresee in their blind passion the pain and harm to come. Equally blameworthy are those who abandon their duties through mental weakness -- that is, through the avoidance of effort and pain. It is quite simple and straightforward to distinguish such cases. In our free time, when our choice is unconstrained and there is nothing to prevent us doing what most pleases us, every pleasure is to be tasted, every pain shunned. But in certain circumstances it will often happen that either the call of duty or some sort of crisis dictates that pleasures are to be repudiated and inconveniences accepted. And so the wise person will uphold the following method of selecting pleasures and pains: pleasures are rejected when this results in other greater pleasures; pains are selected when this avoids worse pains." [On Moral Ends, tr. Woolf (2001)]
  • "But in truth we do blame and deem most deserving of righteous hatred the men who, enervated and depraved by the fascination of momentary pleasures, do not foresee the pains and troubles which are sure to befall them, because they are blinded by desire, and in the same error are involved those who prove traitors to their duties through effeminacy of spirit, I mean because they shun exertions and trouble. Now it is easy and and simple to mark the difference between these cases. For at our seasons of ease, when we have untrammelled freedom of choice, and when nothing debars us from the power of following the course that pleases us best, then pleasure is wholly a matter for our selection and pain for our rejection. On certain occasions however either through the inevitable call of duty or through stress of circumstances, it will often come to pass that we must put pleasures from us and must make no protest against annoyance. So in such cases the principle of selection adopted by the wise man is that he should either by refusing cerftain pleasures attain to other and greater pleasures or by enduring pains should ward off pains still more severe." [tr. Reid (1883)]
  • "But we do accuse those men, and think them entirely worthy of the greatest hatred, who, being made effeminate and corrupted by the allurements of present pleasure, are so blinded by passion that they do not foresee what pains and annoyances they will hereafter be subject to; and who are equally guilty with those who, through weakness of mind, that is to say, from eagerness to avoid labour and pain, desert their duty. And the distinction between these things is quick and easy. For at a time when we are free, when the option of choice is in our own power, and when there is nothing to prevent our being able to do whatsoever we choose, then every pleasure may be enjoyed, and every pain repelled. But on particular occasions it will often happen, owing whether to the obligations of duty or the necessities of business, that pleasures must be declined and annoyances must not be shirked. Therefore the wise man holds to this principle of choice in those matters, that he rejects some pleasures, so as, by the rejection to obtain others which are greater, and encounters some pains, so as by that means to escape others which are more formidable." [On the Chief Good and Evil, tr. Yongue (1853)]
Added on 17-Aug-20 | Last updated 17-Aug-20
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CHARLIE MCCARTHY: Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.

Edgar Bergen (1903-1978) American actor, radio performer, ventriloquist
(Attributed)
Added on 18-May-20 | Last updated 18-May-20
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I divide my officers into four classes: the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord (1878-1943) German general
(Attributed)

Possibly apocryphal. Quoted (unconfirmed) in Horst Poller, Bewältigte Vergangenheit. Das 20. Jahrhundert, erlebt, erlitten, gestaltet [Conquered Past. The 20th century, witnessed, endured, shaped] (2010). Sometimes cited to Truppenführung [Troop Leading] (1933), the German Army Field Manual, but not found there. Also attributed to Erich von Manstein.
Added on 4-May-20 | Last updated 4-May-20
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It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: —
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
School History, “Dane-Geld (A.D. 980-1016),” st. 3-4 (1911) [with C.R.L. Fletcher]
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Added on 10-Jul-17 | Last updated 10-Jul-17
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The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. (Mar 1973).

Full quote: "Some people say they won’t work 'inside the system' -- they’re 'waiting for the revolution.' Well, when the ramparts are open, honey, I'll be there. But until then, I'm going to go right on zapping the business and government delinquents, the jockocrats, the fetus fetishists, and all the other niggerizers any way I can. The biggest sin is sitting on your ass."
Added on 21-Jun-17 | Last updated 28-Aug-17
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My ambition is handicapped by my laziness.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Factotum, ch. 45 (1975)
Added on 31-May-17 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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Destiny is for people who are too lazy to create alternate timelines.

Other Authors and Sources
Richard Stevens III, Diesel Sweeties (5 Oct 2011)
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Added on 4-Jan-17 | Last updated 4-Jan-17
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A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 7 (1847) [Nelly]
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Dec-16
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Laziness is the sin most willingly confessed to, since it implies talents greater than have yet appeared.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays (2001)
Added on 23-Oct-15 | Last updated 23-Oct-15
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Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Table Talk, “On the Pleasure of Painting” (1821-22)
Added on 29-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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There is an old saw in the services: that which is not inspected deteriorates.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News conference (12 May 1954)
Added on 21-May-15 | Last updated 21-May-15
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It is infinitely difficult to know when and where one should stop, and for all but one in thousands the goal of their thinking is the point at which they have become tired of thinking.

[Es ist unendlich schwer, zu wissen, wenn und wo man bleiben soll, und Tausenden für einen ist das Ziel ihres Nachdenkens die Stelle, wo sie des Nachdenkens müde geworden.]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Letter to Moses Mendelssohn (9 Jan 1771)
Added on 8-Apr-15 | Last updated 8-Apr-15
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The firefly only shines when on the wing.
So is it with the mind — when once we rest
We darken.

Philip James Bailey (1816-1902) English poet
Festus (1839)
Added on 30-Mar-15 | Last updated 30-Mar-15
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“Now … if you trust in yourself …”
“Yes?”
“… and believe in your dreams …”
“Yes?”
“… and follow your star …” Miss Tick went on.
“Yes?”
“… you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
The Wee Free Men (2003)
Added on 13-Mar-15 | Last updated 13-Mar-15
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To be idle and to be poor have always been reproaches, and therefore every man endeavours with his utmost care to hide his poverty from others, and his idleness from himself.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Idler, #17 (5 Aug 1758)
Added on 20-Jun-14 | Last updated 20-Jun-14
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That the greatest of evils is idleness, that the poor are the victims, not of circumstances, but of their own “idle, irregular, and wicked courses,” that the truest charity is not to enervate them by relief, but so to reform their characters that relief may be unnecessary — such doctrines turned severity from a sin into a duty, and froze the impulse of natural pity with an assurance that, if indulged, it would perpetuate the suffering which it sought to allay.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4, sec. 4 (1926)
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Added on 7-Jan-13 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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Unless we can extensively program our behavior, we waste tremendous amounts of information-processing capacity on trivia. This is why we form habits. Watch a committee break for lunch and then return to the same room: almost invariably its members seek out the same seats they occupied earlier. … Choosing the same seat spares us the need to survey and evaluate other possibilities.

Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) American writer and futurist
Future Shock, ch. 16 (1970)
Added on 15-Feb-11 | Last updated 16-Jan-20
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Human nature is above all things — lazy.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Household Papers and Stories, ch. 6 (1864)
Added on 26-Jan-11 | Last updated 17-Dec-13
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Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
“The Lady Who Does Her Own Work,” Atlantic Monthly (1864)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Dec-13
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Laziness: the habit of resting before fatigue sets in.

Jules Renard (1864-1910) French writer
Journal (May 1906) [tr. Bogan & Roget (1964)]

Also attributed to Mortimer Caplin.

Alt. trans.: "Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (24 May 1750)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Feb-15
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As a confirmed melancholic, I can testify that the best and maybe only antidote for melancholia is action. However, like most melancholics, I suffer also from sloth.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) American anarchist, writer, environmentalist
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, ch. 4, “Life and Death and All That” (1989)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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