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Talk:life of Riley

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"Life of Riley" (with a plausible origin of the expression) - along with articles on "Jauja" & "Cockaigne" . And for the french "vie de coq-en-pâte" : can one imagine somebody happier and smugger than a capon cuddled in his pie coming sizzling out of its oven ? T.y. Arapaima 06:31, 29 May 2010 (UTC)


I’ve marked this as {{dated}}; it finds occasional contemporary use (as “living the life of Riley”), but most uses I found in searching are either simply as a set phrase (“Life of Riley”), especially in an allusive title, or explanations of the meaning, indicating unfamiliarity.

My understanding is that this was used by the WWI generation, heard (and hence understood, marginally) by the baby boomers (post-WWII generation), but not extensively used by them, and hence largely unintelligible to later generations. It appears to continue in literary and dialectical use, and perhaps in the (American or British) military, so I don’t think it’ll be archaic or obsolete any time soon, but it’s reasonably obscure.

By way of evidence, I’m an American in my 30s, and do not recall ever hearing the term used in earnest, though the set phrase “life of Riley” sounds vaguely familiar. My mother (British baby boomer, currently in her 60s) has only used the phrase a handful of times, and recalls it as an “aunts and uncles” phrase when growing up, i.e., mostly the previous generation.

—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 09:44, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
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