Monday, April 09, 2012

Rest on one’s laurels

This phrase means to be satisfied with ones previous achievements to the point of considering further achievements unnecessary.

The laurels in this phrase refer to the leaves of the Laurus Nobilis tree. In ancient Greece laurel wreaths were a symbol of victory and statues. These laurel wreaths were associated with the god Apollo who adorned them upon his head. Laurel wreaths were often handed out to winners of the Pythian Games held in honour of Apollo.

Those who received laurel wreaths were referred to as a laureate. We still use the term laureate when someone receives a top honour, ex. a noble laureate. Although, noble laureates don’t receive a wreath today, they only receive lots of money.

By the 19th century, the term rest on one’s laurels began to be applied to individuals who had succumbed to laziness after a major achievement.

Once you achieve something great in life remember to continue to strive for greatness, and do not rest on your laurels. Now that you know a little more about this phrase, you can stop trying to rest on my friend Laurel.


  1. Thanks Justin. Glad the record is set straight.

    ...hey, what's the origin of that phrase? Set the record straight?

  2. No problem, Laurel.
    I'll look into that phrase. Thanks.

  3. They found a tomb in Spittalfields in London in 1999 of a high class Roman woman.She lay in a two ton stone sarcophagus with a lead coffin inside.She had the remains of bay [laurel[ leaves under her skull.Maybe that's where the resting on your laurels originates.