- Rewards, progress or other good results with little or no effort.
- When used in a negative sense, it refers to income that is either gained or offered in an unscrupulous or suspect manner.
- It can also be used in a morally neutral sense to refer to money that is gained without much effort.
- When it’s not about money, it’s about not having to try very hard, but getting results or rewards that are worth your time.
The phrase originally meant obtaining easy money through fraud, cheating, deception, illegal or other immoral means. In modern usage, it refers to any relatively easy, worthwhile task.
In capitalist cultures with high risk, high reward and freedom of employment, choosing between a high-effort or low-effort task with the same reward is important.
- The problem is that the working class perpetually has to struggle to get by, whereas the rich continually have access to easy money.
- I don’t mind my job, even though it’s boring. It’s easy money.
- Don’t fall for easy money. If a business venture seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- He’s always on the lookout for easy money; he has no interest in putting in an honest day’s work.
- That team is garbage. Scoring is easy money, and I didn’t even break a sweat.
- Today is easy money. We just need to read the checklist and make sure nothing is broken, then go home early.
- It’s easy money to apply for scholarships. Writing an essay might seem like a lot of work, but so few people apply that you’re bound to get a few thousand dollars if you try.
1900s Americanism. In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the phrase “easy money” was used within the field of economics and political reporting to refer to a state of lending that is characteristic during periods of economic recession: namely, that there is relatively lower demand for credit and, hence, banks are more willing to loan money (see, for example, Earl Dean Howard and Joseph French Johnson, Money and Banking, Volume 5, The Macmillan Company, 1910: p. 199). During this same period, however, it came to be used in the present idiomatic and prejorative sense, meaning money that is gained through morally suspect means. For example, a 1907 essay titled “Easy Money: A Lay Sermon,” warns against the “fallacy of easy money,” which refers to our tendency to believe in and fall victim to “get rich quick” schemes (Up-to-the-Times Magazine, Volume 2, Walla Walla Publishing, 1907: p. 523).
- fast buck
- quick buck