A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 12, 2012
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like (hard) work” is a quotation usually credited to American inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931), but there’s no evidence that he ever said it. Edison began receiving credit for the saying by at least the 1960s.

“And this same opportunity, by the way, is ofttimes disguised as hard work” was cited in print in 1911. “The reason why so many fail to recognize opportunity, is because Old Opp. is so often disguised as Hard Work” is from 1913. “Overalls” were added by at least 1921:

“The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like Hard Work.”

[This expression was explored concurrently by the Quote Investigator.]


Wikiquote: Opportunity
Unsourced
Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.
Thomas Edison

Wikiquote: Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-02-11 – 1931-10-18) was an American inventor and businessman who developed many devices which greatly influenced life worldwide into the twenty-first century.
(...)
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
. As quoted in An Enemy Called Average (1990) by John L. Mason, p. 55

24 December 1911, The State (Columbia, SC), pg. 4, col. 7:
The successful man was out and on the job long before opportunity came a-knocking. And this same opportunity, by the way, is ofttimes disguised as hard work.
(...)
-- Judge.

11 January 1913, Coshocton (OH) Daily Times, pg. 7, col. 3:
Why Opportunity Is Often Missed.
A lot of people do not recognize Opportunity when they meet it because they expect it to look like Luck.—Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hathi Trust
February 1913, Employes Magazine (Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway Company), pg. 88, col. 2:
The reason why so many fail to recognize opportunity, is because Old Opp. is so often disguised as Hard Work.

Hathi Trust
20 December 1913, Plain Talk (New York, NY), pg. 404, col. 2:
The reason a lot of people can’t find Opportunity is because old Op usually goes around disguised as Hard Work.

28 September 1920, Daily Kennebec Journal (Kennebec, ME), pg. 9, col. 3 ad:
When Opportunity Knocks Open the Door
Some people do not recognize the oportunity when they see one—others do not avail themselves of it, because they lack the capital or initiative.
(Augusta Trust Company—ed.)

18 May 1921, Logansport (IN) Pharos-Tribune, “Pickups,” pg. 4, col. 3:
The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like Hard Work.

Google Books
September 1922, The Rotarian, pg. 125:
Henry Dodd says, “The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like Hard Work.”

2 November 1923, Attica (IN) Ledger Tribune, pg. 4, col. 4:
Opportunity in Overalls?
The reason most people do not recognize opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like hard work.—Henry Dodd.

13 November 1942, Kingsport (TN) Times, “The Corner Window” by W. J. McAuliffe, pg. 4, col. 6:
The reason that opportunity does not always get a welcome when he knocks is that he comes dressed in overalls and looks like his twin brother, Hard Work.

23 September 1947, Greensboro (NC) Record, “Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 6A, col. 3:
Anon: The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity when they see it is because it goes around wearing overalls and looking like hard work.

4 June 1948, Brookshire (TX) Times, pg. 2, col. 1 ad:
GRANDMA SPEAKIN’...
(...)
THE REASON so many people miss Opportunity when it knocks, is ‘cause Opportunity is often dressed in blue overalls and looks like Hard Work.
$5 paid Mrs. E. D. Barnett, Plain Dealing, La.
(Nu_Maid Margarine—ed.)

Google Books
The Santa Fe Magazine
Volume 45
1951
Pg. 65:
The reason why so many people do not recognize opportunity when they meet it, is that it usually goes around wearing overalls and looks like hard work.

16 September 1966, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “C. V. S. Students Tops in Ford Contest” by Genevieve Flavin, pg. SW8:
Opportunity is often missed because it comes disguised as hard work, is the sage observation of John R. O’Connor Jr., 17, of 8204 Perry av., winner of one of the three first place prizes awarded Chicago high school entrants…

19 December 1957, McKean County Miner (Smethport, PA), pg. 8, col. 4:
OPPORTUNITY
The reason most people don’t recognize opportunity is it comes dressed in overalls and usually looks like hard work.—Everett Mitchell, Radio Commentator.

20 February 1971, News Journal (Mansfield, OH), “Lukens Tells Republicans to Go after Young Voters” by Virginia Lee, pg. 13, cols. 5-6”
He borrowed two quotations to capsulize his conclusions. He quoted from Plato “let him who would move the world first move himself” and from Edison “opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls looking like hard work.”

20 June 1999, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “‘Father’ not equal to ‘daddy’” by Bill Kirby, pg. B1, col. 1:
Father warns about missing “opportunities.”

Daddy demonstrates that many an opportunity is missed because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

The Economist
An A-Z of business quotations
Hard work

Aug 10th 2012, 12:47 by B.R.
(...)
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Thomas Edison (pictured above), inventor (1847–1931)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Sunday, August 12, 2012 • Permalink