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Ne'er-do-well   /nɛr-du-wɛl/   Listen

An idle worthless person.  Synonyms: goldbrick, good-for-naught, good-for-nothing, goof-off, no-account.

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"Ne'er-do-well" Quotes from Famous Books

... with an indignant pity. I tried in vain to sleep. In the darkness of night our plan came to seem like an atrocious outrage upon a guileless, defenceless ne'er-do-well. For my share of the guilt, I resolved to convey to Potts privately on the morrow a more than perfunctory promise of aid, should he find himself distressed at any time in what he would doubtless term his ...
— The Boss of Little Arcady • Harry Leon Wilson

... the stern and heroic Communist maintaining his views despite the reproaches of father and mother and the nagging of his wife. It showed also the Anarchist brother (as might be expected from the Bolshevik hostility to Anarchism) as an unruly, lazy, ne'er-do-well, with a passionate love for Sonia, the young bourgeoise, which was likely to become dangerous if not returned. She, on the other hand, obviously preferred the Communist. It was clear that he returned her love, but it was not quite clear that he would ...
— The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism • Bertrand Russell

... original and delightful author. His boys are always masterly. Nothing could be truer to Nature, more nicely distinguished as to idiosyncrasy, while alike in expression and in limited range of ideas, or more truly comic, than the two that figure in this story. Nick Whickson, too, the good-natured ne'er-do-well, who is in his own and everybody's way till he finds his natural vocation as an aid to a dealer in horses, is a capital sketch. The hypochondriac Squire Plumworthy is very good, also, in his way, though he verges once or twice on the ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Volume 6, Issue 35, September, 1860 • Various

... you'd devote yourself to him, like a sister or a mother. You'd put Harry aside for a time as a pleasure that mustn't be indulged in. Now that's just where you're wrong. No! I want to see you being ever so good and kind to dear Harry as a duty to a ne'er-do-well of a ...
— The Limit • Ada Leverson

... been less fortunate. He had been a little cross with his father, and perhaps a little cross with all the Whartons generally, who did not, he thought, make quite enough of him. In the event of "anything happening" to that ne'er-do-well nephew, he himself would be the heir; and he reflected not unfrequently that something very probably might happen to the nephew. He did not often see this particular cousin, but he always heard of him as being drunk, overwhelmed with debt and difficulty, and altogether in that position of ...
— The Prime Minister • Anthony Trollope

... the possibility of this murder having been committed by one of Mr. Glenthorpe's workmen with a grudge against him? Well, it's a very strange thing, but Queensmead was telling me this morning that one of Mr. Glenthorpe's workmen had a grudge against him. He's a chap named Hyson, the local ne'er-do-well, who was almost starving when Mr. Glenthorpe came to the district. Glenthorpe was warned against employing him, but the fellow got round him with a piteous tale, and he put him on. He proved to be just as ungrateful as the average British workman, and caused the old ...
— The Shrieking Pit • Arthur J. Rees

... whenever, at any time, you romp and laugh together, find them all most obliging; but there's one thing that causes me very much concern. I have here one, who is the very root of retribution, the incarnation of all mischief, one who is a ne'er-do-well, a prince of malignant spirits in this family. He is gone to-day to pay his vows in the temple, and is not back yet, but you will see him in the evening, when you will readily be able to judge for yourself. One thing you must do, and that is, from this time forth, not to pay any notice to him. All ...
— Hung Lou Meng, Book I • Cao Xueqin

... ask you, for I have not a single bribe to offer. I merely intend to marry you. I am a ne'er-do-well, a debauchee, a tippler, a compendium of all the vices you care to mention. I am not a bit in love with you, and as any woman will forewarn you, I am sure to make you a vile husband. Your solitary chance is to bully me into temperance and propriety and common-sense, ...
— The Cords of Vanity • James Branch Cabell et al

... Cook cried out and laying hold of his debtor's collar, said, "O Moslems, this fellow is my first customer[FN14] this day and he hath eaten my food and given me naught." So the folk gathered about them and blamed the Ne'er-do-well and said to him, "Give him the price of that which thou hast eaten." Quoth he, "I gave him a dirham before I entered the shop;" and quoth the Cook, "Be everything I sell this day forbidden to me, ...
— Supplemental Nights, Volume 1 • Richard F. Burton

... truth he is a sort of ne'er-do-well," the merchant laughed. "I grant that he has not had much chance. His father died when he was a child, and his mother soon married again. There is no doubt that he was badly treated at home, and when he ...
— Saint Bartholomew's Eve - A Tale of the Huguenot WarS • G. A. Henty

... like a happily-adapted recollection than the actual impromptu of a boy of nine. But another, in which, after a painful silence, he replied to the brutal enquiry of a ne'er-do-well relative as to when he meant to grow handsome, by saying that he would do so when the speaker grew good,—is characteristic of the easily-wounded spirit and 'exquisite sensibility of contempt' with which he was to enter upon ...
— The Complete Poetical Works of Oliver Goldsmith • Oliver Goldsmith

... that's not like you. You're unkind and you're harsh. Her husband is the sort of man—well, he's his own worst enemy. A weakling, a ne'er-do-well—he's spent all his money and hers too. She has a child. Do you think you can condemn her for leaving him? As a matter of fact she didn't ...
— Redemption and Two Other Plays • Leo Tolstoy et al

... sexual crisis at the age of 13, not long after menstruation had become established, and when she had just recovered from an attack of chorea. Her old nurse, who had remained in the service of the family, had a ne'er-do-well son who had disappeared for some years and had just now suddenly returned and thrown himself, crying and sobbing, at the knees of his mother, who thrust him away. The young girl accidentally witnessed this scene. The cries and the sobs provoked ...
— Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 3 (of 6) • Havelock Ellis

... nothing. Indeed, he was supposed to be in love with the daughter of the rector, Miriam Ainsley. I thought it was going to be a match, but they were both poor, and the girl suddenly married a young nobleman, a man I disliked very much, a wastrel and a ne'er-do-well. But there were stories about this other young man who was supposed to be in love with her, and perhaps they came to her ears, and drove her to the other man, though it was a case of out of the frying-pan into the fire. The young engineer left the place ...
— The Woman's Way • Charles Garvice

... our most vexing moral problems are those in which benefit to some must be weighed against benefit to others. Shall a man who is needed by his family risk his life to save a ne'er-do-well? Shall we insist that people unhappily married shall endure their wretchedness and forego the possibility of a happier union in order that heedlessness and license may not be encouraged in the lives of others? Life is full ...
— Problems of Conduct • Durant Drake

Words linked to "Ne'er-do-well" :   idler, bum, do-nothing, layabout, goldbrick, loafer

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