Forty winks

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The idiom forty winks first appeared in the 1820s, though its origin is unclear. We will examine the meaning of the expression forty winks, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Forty winks is a short day nap, usually taken in a chair or on a sofa, not in bed. The term is usually expressed as catch forty winks, though it may be expressed as take forty winks. Short naps are believed by many to be refreshing, some businesses even provide a napping area for employees. The origin of the term forty winks is unknown, though forty is a number that is often cited in the Bible. Note that the term forty winks is properly rendered without a hyphen, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.


I would use the breaks to catch forty winks, discuss the syllabus with friends or watch TV. (The Telegraph India)

When Sir Desmond finally jerked awake after his forty winks he he smiled to himself, hiding a sheepish grin behind his hands. (The Sun)

It’s 7.30am and half the buses occupants are hoping to catch forty winks before they peel themselves away from their warm seats to make the walk into work. (The Journal)

One suspects that he might prefer to enjoy a leisurely lunch, or perhaps catch forty winks today, but such is not his fate. (The Intermountain Jewish News)

In an interview with The Evening Standard, the star expressed gratitude to William Shakespeare for giving the character a 45-minute break between appearances, which is just enough time for him to catch forty winks backstage. (Signature Reads)