Ne'er do well


      • discourage someone
        Advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit

      • describe a lazy or irresponsible person
        Refer to someone who is seen as lacking ambition or motivation and is not successful in their endeavors

    Examples of Ne'er do well

    • John's lazy habits and lack of motivation have made him a ne'er do well in his job.

      This idiom refers to a person who is consistently unsuccessful or unable to accomplish anything due to their lack of effort or diligence. John's inability to meet the expectations of his job and his failure to take any significant actions towards improvement have led to his status as a ne'er do well in the workplace.

    • Despite his promising potential, Sarah's disinterest in academics and her unwillingness to put in the effort have earned her a reputation as a ne'er do well in her school.

      In this context, the idiom signifies Sarah's lack of academic accomplishments and her failure to meet the expectations of her educational path due to her lack of engagement and initiative.

    • Tom's repeated failures in his business ventures show that he is destined to be a ne'er do well in the world of entrepreneurship.

      The idiom highlights Tom's inability to succeed in his entrepreneurial endeavors, despite his efforts. It implies that Tom's future prospects in this particular field are dim due to the repeated failures he has experienced.

    • Mark's procrastination and consistent poor performance at work have caused his colleagues to view him as a ne'er do well in the industry.

      Here, the idiom portrays Mark's failure to be productive or meet the standards required of him in his profession. His unpreparedness and inability to perform his job duties adequately have led his colleagues to consider him as a ne'er do well in his line of work.

    • James was always getting into trouble at school and never seemed to learn anything. His teachers had all but given up on him, calling him a "ne'er do well."

      In this example, the idiom "ne'er do well" is used to describe someone who consistently fails to achieve anything positive. It can apply to academic, professional, or personal endeavors and is often used derisively by those who have lost patience with the individual's persistent lack of success.

    • Her lazy habits and frequent absences led her coworkers to label her a "ne'er do well."

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe someone's professional shortcomings. It highlights the person's failure to meet expectations and suggests that others have lost faith in their ability or willingness to contribute to the team.

    • The determined coach refused to give up on the struggling athlete, seeing potential where others saw only a "ne'er do well."

      In this example, the idiom is used in a more optimistic context, indicating that the individual has been written off by others as a failure, but still has the potential to succeed. The coach's belief in the athlete's ability shows that there is hope for improvement, even in the face of past setbacks.

    • The criminal's woeful track record and history of recidivism earned him a reputation as a "ne'er do well."

      This example demonstrates how the idiom can be used to describe someone's persistent criminal behavior. It suggests that the individual has a long history of failing to conform to the law, and that others see them as a danger to society.


    The idiom "ne'er do well" can be used to discourage someone from pursuing a certain activity or to describe someone who is lazy and irresponsible. It is often used to caution against engaging in a particular task or to refer to someone who lacks ambition and is not successful.

    Origin of "Ne'er do well"

    The phrase "ne'er do well" originated in the 16th century and is a contraction of the phrase "never do well." It was used to describe someone who was seen as lazy, unreliable, or generally unsuccessful. The term has evolved over time to refer to individuals who lack ambition and are not successful in their pursuits. The origins of the idiom can be traced back to Old English and it has been used in literature and everyday language for centuries. Overall, "ne'er do well" has come to represent someone who is not productive or successful in their endeavors.