All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

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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.


Though the spirit of the proverb had been expressed previously, the modern saying appeared first in James Howell's Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659),[1] and was included in later collections of proverbs. It also appears in Howell's Paroimiographia (1659), p. 12.

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

Uses in popular media[edit]

While the proverb is used in several examples of popular media, from James Joyce's short story "Araby" to Jack Kerouac's Big Sur to the 1957 movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, probably the most famous example appears in the 1980 horror movie The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, in which the main character, Jack (played by Jack Nicholson), is found to have abandoned his latest novel in favour of typing this sentence over and over onto reams of paper. Kubrick's addition of a psychotic edge to the proverb has had some effect on popular culture, inspiring several other works to include a direct homage to the scene.[2]

In film[edit]

In literature[edit]

In music[edit]

In television[edit]

The "Sunday" computer virus, a member of the Jerusalem virus family discovered in 1989, contained a reference to the proverb. Infected files will contain the string "Today is Sunday! Why do you work so hard? All work and no play make you a dull boy! Come on! Let's go out and have some fun!" The virus's payload prints the proverb on the screen and then deletes all files running while the virus is a resident in the memory, as the original Jerusalem did every Friday the 13th.[citation needed]

In Video games[edit]

In the game Command & Conquer: Renegade during the last mission. "All work and no play, may make Jack a dull boy." can occasionally be heard from the loudspeakers in the Temple of Nod.

In the game Jazzpunk. In the first mission, when the player enters the world of pizza.

In the Safehouse Nightmare mission in PAYDAY 2 (with Jack substituted for the character Wolf).


  1. ^ "JamHowell Quotes and Quotations". Famous Quotes and Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-21. 
  2. ^ "Movie connections for The Shining (1980)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-01-21. 
  3. ^