life of Riley

life of Riley

noun Informal.
a carefree, comfortable, and thoroughly enjoyable way of living: Since winning the lottery, he's led the life of Riley.

Origin:
1920–25; perhaps after the Reilly mentioned in various songs popular around 1900, as “The Best of the House Is None Too Good for Reilly”

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Main Entry:  life of Riley
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  the good life, an easy and pleasant life or carefree existence
Etymology:  most likely from Patric Rooney's 1880 song "Is That Mr. Reilly"
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

life of Riley definition


A life of luxury: “Sheila found herself living the life of Riley after she won the lottery.” The expression comes from a popular song of the 1880s, “Is That Mr. Reilly?”, in which the title character describes what he would do if he suddenly became wealthy.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

life of Riley

Also, life of Reilly. An easy life, as in Peter had enough money to take off the rest of the year and live the life of Riley. This phrase originated in a popular song of the 1880s, "Is That Mr. Reilly?" by Pat Rooney, which described what its hero would do if he suddenly came into a fortune.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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