What Does “Idle Hands Are the Devil’s Workshop” Mean?

Discover the biblical origins of the idiom 'idle hands are the devil's workshop,' its various interpretations, and how it encourages people to stay productive and avoid temptation.

Origin and Meaning

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop is a well-known idiom that has been used for centuries to convey the idea that people who are not busy with work or other activities are more likely to get into trouble.

The idiom can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the context in which it is used.

Here are three brief definitions of the idiom:

  • The phrase “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” means that people who have nothing to do are more likely to get into trouble.
  • The idiom suggests that people who are not busy with work or other activities are more likely to be tempted by evil.
  • The phrase implies that people who are not productive or engaged in positive activities are more likely to engage in negative behaviors.

Here are three example sentences that use the idiom:

  1. John’s parents always told him that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so he made sure to keep himself busy with school and sports.
  2. The teacher warned her students that they should avoid idle hands, as they might be tempted to cheat on the test.
  3. The manager of the factory knew that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so he made sure to keep his workers busy with different tasks.

Here are three synonyms of the idiom:

  • An idle mind is the devil’s playground.
  • An empty mind is the devil’s workshop.
  • The devil finds work for idle hands.

Biblical References

The idiom “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” has biblical origins.

The phrase is a translation of Proverbs 16:27 in the Book of Proverbs, which states, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.” The phrase has been interpreted to mean that people who are not busy with work or other activities are more likely to be tempted by evil.

The idiom has been used by theologians and religious leaders to encourage people to stay busy with positive activities and avoid temptation.

Proverb Interpretations

The idiom “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” has been interpreted in different ways over the years.

Some interpretations suggest that the idiom means that people who are not busy with work or other activities are more likely to be tempted by evil.

Other interpretations suggest that the idiom means that people who are not productive or engaged in positive activities are more likely to engage in negative behaviors.

The idiom has been used to encourage people to stay busy with positive activities and avoid temptation.

The King James Version and the American Standard Version of the Bible both use the phrase “idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” while The Living Bible uses the phrase “idle hands are the devil’s tools.” St. Jerome, a Latin theologian, wrote in the late 4th century that “idleness teaches a man to do evil.”