The Life of Riley

Meanings of “The Life of Riley”

The phrase “life of a Riley” means a pleasant and easy life. It also refers to a carefree and enjoyable way of living.

Origin of “The Life of Riley”

The phrase “life of a riley” was first used in the New Jersey newspaper, The News, published in 1910, where it is stated as; “Henry Mungersdorf is living the life of Riley just at present.”

Later, it was used by Sergeant Leonard in an extract, published in 1918, where he wrote, “that he and his pals were “living the life of Reilly.” Since then, the phrase has been used by various authors conveying different shades of meanings.

Examples from Literature

Example #1

The Life of Riley by Willie Dowling

“Lost in the Milky Way,
Smile at the empty sky and wait for
The moment a million chances may all collide.
I’ll be the guiding light,
Swim to me through stars that shine down,
And call to the sleeping world as they fall to Earth.
So here’s your life,
We’ll find our way,
We’re sailing blind,
But it’s certain nothing’s certain.
I don’t mind,
I get the feeling
You’ll be fine,
I still believe
That in this world,
We’ve got to find the time…
For the life of Riley.”

Taken from a lyric, these lines show the joy, wonder, and carefree life of the speaker who is absorbed in the enchanting beauty of nature. The speaker beautifully explains the wonders of nature how stars collide and fall to the Earth when the world sleeps. Unlike those stars, the speaker and his beloved will eventually find their way in this busy world. He believes that they will indeed find time to enjoy a life of Riley. The phrase has been used as a metaphor for a happy life.

Example #2

They’re Now Living the Life of Riley by Bri Mar

“They’d reached the conclusion their time was done,
Over hum ans they had no controls,
They were in a battle that could not be won,
Both concurred they should save their own souls.

On that historic day both of them agreed,
This is where our hostility ends,
From our responsibilities we are now freed,
QGod and Satan are now best of friends.

They now live in exile in a faraway place,
Both concur they have played it wily,
After saying Au Revoir to the Human Race.”

These stanzas occur in the poem to present an imaginative meeting between God and Satan, where they intend to form a new constitution to lead a life of Riley. In the first stanza, the speaker reflects the brutality, evil, and injustices wreaked by humans that forced these powers to step back. The second stanza speaks about the friendship of Satan and God. However, in the last stanza, the speaker says that both are living a peaceful life now, leaving humans on their own. There is no direct mention of the phrase in this text, yet the title and implied meanings shown as an extended metaphor.

Example #3

The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley by Colin Thompson

This exciting work, compares human life with that of the rat, reaching an exciting conclusion. He comments on the nature of human beings who spend their lives aimlessly chasing their dreams. They live for long, and most of the time they are found unhappy as they spend a lot of time chasing worldly pursuits. In doing so, they forget to enjoy the true happiness and blessings of life. On the contrary, rats live for a short time, but they live their life happily. The phrase shows its meanings clearly when used as the title of the novel.

Example #4

The Life of Riley: Mastering the five secret habits to enjoy a longer and healthier life by Phil Riley

The author, in this book, talks about the choices available to human beings that lead them to determine the overall course of their lives. He targets the United Kingdom population and talks about their expected life expectancy versus the actual situation; many people lose their battles early due to poor life choices. Thus, this book is healthy guidance on how people can adopt healthy life choices. By adopting the five simple lifestyle changes, they can add enjoyable and significant extra years to their lives. The phrase has been used in the title, showing metaphorical meanings of the phrase.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Blessed from childhood after his father came into sudden wealth, Jack lived the life of Riley compared to the sufferings and tough time his elder sister faced.”

Example #2: “Hester wonders why some people curse and complain all their lives when, in reality, they are enjoying the life of Riley.”

Example #3: “While doctors and soldiers are out working hard all day, trying to save or protect us, we are home, living the life of Riley.”

Example #4: “Minnie’s friend inherited a lot of money from his grandparents, and since then, he’s been living the life of Riley.”

Example #5: “This COVID pandemic has brought loss only to lower and middle-class strata, while the elites are still enjoying the life of Riley.”