life of Reilly, leading/living the

lead the life of Reilly

To live a life of great ease, comfort, or luxury. The phrase is likely of early 20th-century Irish-American origin, but to whom Reilly refers is uncertain. Pampered from a young age after his father came into sudden wealth, Jonathan led the life of Reilly compared to the hardships his older siblings faced.
See also: lead, life, of, Reilly

live the life of Reilly

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

life of Reilly, leading/living the

Living a life of luxury. There are several theories as to the precise origin of this term and the identity of Reilly (or Riley). The earliest attribution is to a comic song, “Is That Mr. Reilly?” popularized by vaudevillian Pat Rooney in America in the 1880s and describing what Reilly would do if he struck it rich. However, H. L. Mencken said it came from another source, “The Best in the House Is None Too Good for Reilly,” by Lawlor and Blake, popular about 1900. Though the original Reilly is no longer known, the cliché survives.
See also: leading, life, living, of
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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