idle hands are the devil’s tools


idle hands are the devil’s tools
or idle hands are the devil’s workshop

Meaning | Synonyms

  • if you have nothing to do, you are likely to do some mischief
  • an idle person is likely to do something evil
  • people are more likely to do something bad and get into trouble when they have nothing to do

Example Sentences

  1. All the kids should be kept busy while you are away; idle hands are the devil’s tools.
  2. I don’t like the look the man standing outside doing nothing. Idle hands are the devil’s tools.
  3. We should find something useful for Amy to do during the afternoon. Idle hands are the devil’s tools.
  4. Why are you wasting your time doing nothing? Don’t you know, idle hands are the devil’s tools.


The origin of the phrase is not clear, however, it is believed to be an ancient one with its roots in the Bible. Though the phrase does not appear in the Bible, the message conveyed by it is present. A saying by St Jerome (347 – 420 AD) in Latin has a similar meaning. In English, it can be traced back to at least the 12th century when Chaucer referred to idle hands being devil’s tools.

A similar phrase also exists, which says “an idle mind or brain is a devil’s workshop”.

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We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.
2 Thessalonians 3:11,12 (NIV)

‒ Anonymous July 1, 2021

Also engage in some occupation, so that the devil may always find you busy.

Proverbs 16:27-29
27 Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.
28 An evil man sows strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
29 Wickedness loves company—and leads others into sin.

‒ Anonymous March 7, 2021

Because of idleness. David fell into temptation.
2 Samuel 11: 1- 27

‒ Anonymous October 26, 2018

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