From The Idler’s Glossary, an examination of words and phrases that describe those who prefer not to work, published by Biblioasis in 2008.
DILLY-DALLY: Dallying is a delightful, flirtatious way to pass the time. To dilly-dally, however, is to seesaw, zigzag, or shilly-shally—in other words, to act with trifling vacillation or indecision. As Dr. Livesey says, in Treasure Island, “There is no time to dilly-dally in our work.” This is as true in our own lives as it is in a pirate yarn. See: DAWDLE.
DISSIPATED: The whole force of this term [from the Latin for “spend or use up wastefully or foolishly”] lies in the Protestant idea that you can somehow glorify God by accumulating stuff. But the idler prefers that part of the Bible in which Jesus asks us to consider the lilies, which toileth not, yet which are more beautiful than Solomon in all his splendor. Remember, too, the moral of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son: You aren’t more beloved just because you’ve kept your nose to the grindstone. See: SYBARITE.
DISSOLUTE: Around the 14th century, actions marked by indulgence in things deemed vices began to be described as “dissolute,” meaning that they tend to somehow dissolve, or disintegrate, the actor’s very selfhood. This proto-totalitarian paranoia about “keeping it together” is, according to some postmodern theorists, the wellspring of such vices as racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. See: DISSIPATED, SYBARITE, UPTIGHTNIK.
DISTRACTED: Although we must struggle against the centripetal forces of traction (all those entities that would hold us back, keep us in our place), the centrifugal forces of distraction (those phenomena that would shatter our hard-won state of mindfulness) can be equally as powerful. See: ABSENTMINDED, CAPRICIOUS, DESULTORY, INATTENTIVE.
DIZZY: It is every evolved person’s duty to cultivate the voluptuous panic of vertigo, by staring into that void in which all the forms and norms of our daily lives are revealed as artificial constructs. As if that weren’t difficult enough, you’ve got to revalue your values in light of this terrifying insight, and advance boldly into a new style of life. The problem with dizziness, as Sartre noted, is not how to keep from falling over the precipice, but how to keep from throwing ourselves over it. See: AVOIDANCE, DISTRACTED, FLIGHTY, GIDDY.
DO-NOTHING: In politics, a do-nothing is an anti-progressive reactionary; elsewhere, though, he may be a saint. Oscar Wilde described his life’s work as the “art of doing nothing,” and insisted that for the person living in a society that worships action, “to do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world.” See: GOOD-FOR-NOTHING, IDLER.
DODGER: A dodger shirks his duties and evades his responsibilities neither for purposes of graft, nor out of fear, but simply out of an overwhelming distaste for labor. Think of Henry Miller ditching his career and family because he believed that “work . . . is an activity reserved for the dullard.” Dodging can be an artful form of idling, and dodgers can be an inspiration to us all. However, the dodger who never quits the job or situation that she detests is, finally, not an idler but a slacker. See: BARTLEBY, KILL TIME, SKIVER, SLACKER.