All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is a proverb. It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring. The exact origins of the phrase remain unclear, though it was recorded as early as 1659.


Though the spirit of the proverb had been expressed previously, the modern saying first appeared in James Howell's Proverbs (1659).[1][2] It has often been included in subsequent collections of proverbs and sayings.[3]

Some writers have added a second part to the proverb, as in Harry and Lucy Concluded (1825) by the Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth:

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.

Uses in popular mediaEdit

The proverb has been used widely throughout popular media, notably including The Andy Griffith Show season 5 episode 30, James Joyce's 1914 short story "Araby", Jack Kerouac's 1962 novel Big Sur, the 1933 Laurel & Hardy film Sons of the Desert, the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai, and the 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go, and the 1980 horror film The Shining[4] directed by Stanley Kubrick.

In Kubrick's film the main character, Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), is found to have abandoned the novel he was writing in favor of typing this sentence over and over onto reams of paper. A number of other works have subsequently included a direct homage to the scene, notably in The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror V" segment "The Shinning", where Marge sees Homer's typewriter, only to see "Feelin' fine" written once, but then a lightning flash reveals "No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy" scrawled over the walls.

It was referenced in The Office in 2008.[episode needed]

In the 2018 Harvey Street Kids episode "Clinging in the Rain", this was parodied as "All rain and no play makes Dot a dull girl.".

In the 1990 Twin Peaks episode "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer", this was parodied as “All work and no play makes Ben and Jerry dull boys.”.


  1. ^ Howell, James (1659). Paroimiographia. Proverbs, or, old Sayed Sawes & Adages in English (or the Saxon Toung) Italian, French and Spanish whereunto the British, for their great antiquity and weight are added. London: Samuel Thomson. It is found on page 12 of the section titled Proverbs, or Old Sayed-Sawes, and Adages in the English Toung. Howell's Proverbs is bound with Howell's Lexicon Tetraglotton (1660).
  2. ^ Howell, James (1660). Lexicon Tetraglotton, an English-French-Italian-Spanish Dictionary. London: Samuel Thomson. : Whereunto is adjoined a large Nomenclature of the proper Terms (in all the four) belonging to several Arts and Sciences, to Recreations, to Professions both Liberal and Mechanick, &c. divided into Fiftie two Sections; with another Volume of the Choicest Proverbs in all the said Toungs, (consisting of divers compleat Tomes) ...
  3. ^ "James Howell Quotes and Quotations". Famous Quotes and Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  4. ^ "Film Script, The Shining". p. 107.