the life of Riley

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the life of Riley

A life of great ease, comfort, or luxury, used especially in the phrase "lead/live the life of Riley." The phrase is likely of early 20th-century Irish-American origin, but to whom Riley refers is uncertain. Pampered from a young age after his father came into sudden wealth, Jonathan led the life of Riley compared to the hardships his older siblings faced.
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Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

life of Riley

Also, life of Reilly. An easy life, as in Peter had enough money to take off the rest of the year and live the life of Riley. This phrase originated in a popular song of the 1880s, "Is That Mr. Reilly?" by Pat Rooney, which described what its hero would do if he suddenly came into a fortune.
See also: life, of, riley
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

the life of Riley (or Reilly)

a luxurious or carefree existence. informal
Reilly or Riley is a common Irish surname. A popular song of the early 20th century entitled ‘My Name is Kelly’ included the lines ‘Faith and my name is Kelly Michael Kelly , But I'm living the life of Reilly just the same’. This may be the source of the expression but it is possible that the songwriter, H. Pease, was drawing on an already existing catchphrase.
1978 Daily Telegraph It is simply not true that we don't pay tax and are living the life of Riley.
See also: life, of, riley
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

the life of Riley

Informal
An easy life.
See also: life, of, riley
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

the life of Riley

A life of ease. Although linguistic history fails to reveal who the eponymous Mr. Reilly was, the phrase was traced to the mid-19th century's Irish immigration to the United States. The phrase was used in popular songs and on the stage, and was most recently used as the title of a very successful radio program and later television series starring William Bendix as Chester A. Riley, whose signature comment, “What a revoltin' development this is,” became a popular expression during the mid-20th century.
See also: life, of, riley
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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