If a person is called “bone idle” it is the very opposite of a compliment! If you want to find out what it does mean and where it comes from then keep reading this article!
The expression is used in order to describe someone who is lazy. The phrase does not just suggest laziness though, it suggests that a person is completely and utterly useless and lazy.
A similar expression dates to the year 1830 in The Vocabulary Of East Anglia by Robert Forby. It reads “bone-lazy, bone-sore, bone-tired, adj. so lazy, sore, or tired, that the laziness, the soreness, or the fatigue, seem to have penetrated the very bones.”
Forby never used the exact expression “bone idle” and we have to wait until the year 1836 to find the first use of this exact phrase. It can be found in Thomas Carlyle’s New Letters which reads “for the last three weeks I have been going what you call bone-idle.”
An example of the expression in use can be found in a quote from musician, Noel Gallacher. He is quoted to have said “I can make going to the dry-cleaners last an entire day, and the dry cleaners might be 150 yards from my front door. You might find it hard to believe, but I am bone-idle lazy.”