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life of Riley

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

First recorded in 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”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Word Origin and History for life of riley

life of Riley

n.

"life at ease," expression popularized by 1917, American English, sometimes said to trace to various songs from c.1902.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

life of riley in Culture

life of Riley

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.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with life of riley

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.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.