lead the life of Riley

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lead the life of Riley

To live a life of great ease, comfort, or luxury. 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.
See also: lead, life, of, riley

lead the life of Riley

 and live the life of Riley
Fig. to live in luxury. (No one knows who Riley alludes to.) If I had a million dollars, I could live the life of Riley. The treasurer took our money to Mexico, where he lived the life of Riley until the police caught him.
See also: lead, life, of, riley

lead/live the life of Reilly/ˈRiley

(informal) have a comfortable and enjoyable life without any worries: He inherited a lot of money and since then he’s been living the life of Riley.
See also: lead, life, live, of, Reilly, riley
References in periodicals archive ?
These two boys are leading the life of Riley and drawing pay from the armed forces.
These two boys are leading the life of Riley and drawing pay from the armed forces and their contribution to their military effort is absolutely zilch.
There were none asking if you've had an accident in the last five years, no obnoxious children holding their noses in a lavatory or women leading the life of Riley because they've found better sanitary protection.