The idea of industriousness has been an ever-recurring issue since Max Weber launched it as a putative explanation of the advent of economic modernity. The notion of ‘industrious revolution’ has provoked a renewed flourishing of publications focusing on this issue. Although most historians agree on the emergence of industriousness in seventeenth-century Europe, there is no consensus regarding the chronology, hence the real causes, of this mental and discursive shift. This article emphasizes the problematic role played by literary evidences in these social and cultural models of diffusion of new consumer values and desires. It then establishes the timing of the emergence of the ‘industriousness discourse’ using an original approach to diffusion based both on the quantitative analysis of very large corpora and a close reading of seventeenth-century economic pamphlets and educational literature. It concludes first that there was not one but several competing discourses on industriousness. It then identifies two crucial hinges which closely match the chronology proposed by Allen and Muldrew, but refutes that championed by de Vries and McCloskey. The industrious revolution as described by these authors would have happened both too late to fit its intellectual roots and too early to signal the beginning of a ‘consumer revolution’.