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18 of the Best Synonyms for ‘Lazy’

17 June 2019

From Interesting Literature:

The English language possesses more than a few good words that mean ‘lazy’ or ‘a lazy person’. Below, as well as some of the more common synonyms for ‘lazy’ or ‘laziness’, we’ve trawled the old dictionaries and thesauri to find some of the best little-known synonyms for the word ‘lazy’ and its variations.

INDOLENT. This word has been used to mean ‘slothful’, ‘lazy’, or ‘idle’ since at least the early eighteenth century. Interestingly, it originally meant ‘causing no pain’, as its etymology (literally, ‘not grieving’) testifies.

. . . .

IGNAVY. This is a rare and obsolete term, a noun meaning ‘sluggishness’ or ‘sloth’. Etymologically, it literally means ‘not busy’ (from the Latin). Perhaps it’s due a revival?

BEDPRESSER. Appearing in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1, where Prince Hal uses it to describe – surprise, surprise – Falstaff (‘This sanguine coward, this bed-presser’), this handy noun for a lazy person was defined by Samuel Johnson in his 1755 Dictionary as ‘a heavy lazy fellow’.

JOTTLE. This is an old Scots word – a verb. It is defined by one nineteenth-century dictionary thus: ‘To be apparently diligent and yet doing nothing, to be so about trifles.’

QUISBY. The word ‘quisby’ means ‘an idle fellow’, and so is a glorious synonym for a lazy person, for someone who idles. However, the word – rare though it is – is slightly more common in the phrase ‘doing quisby’, which was old slang for idling or not working. Of uncertain etymology.

EYE-SERVANT. Although now rare, this word, referring to a servant or employee who is hard-working or obedient only when observed by their employer, dates from the sixteenth century, and was used in one of the Protestant martyr Hugh Latimer’s sermons.

Link to the rest at Interesting Literature

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4 Comments to “18 of the Best Synonyms for ‘Lazy’”

  1. I prefer synonyms that don’t tear my readers out of my story just so that they can go look up some rare/obsolete/confusing word they’ve never seen before (and most likely will never see again. 😉 )

  2. Is there one that means, “Sitting here reading synonyms for lazy rather than opening the word processor and working on her book”?

  3. Felix J. Torres

    I rather like Ignavy; it sounds like a good name for a character, perhaps a shady hustler type. Or, for litfic, a luddite protagonist striving to hold back time.

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