Where did the phrase "Catch some Z's" come from?

...and why is it a "z"?

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    4. Used (usually repeated) to represent a buzzing sound; also conventionally representing the sound of snoring. Hence Z-ing vbl. n., and as v. intr. to make such a noise or noises.

    1852 THOREAU Summer 15 June, The dry z-ing of the locust is heard.

    1884 R. W. BUCHANAN New Abelard i, The bats were seen flitting with thin z-like cry high up over the waterside.

    1893 KIPLING Many Invent. 103 The oars rip out and go z-zzp all along the line.

    1902 S. E. WHITE Blazed Trail ii, The rhythmical z-z-z! z-z-z! [of the saw].

    1909 H. G. WELLS Tono-Bungay I. ii. 67 He had a way of drawing air in at times through his teeth that gave a whispering zest to his speech. It's a sound I can only represent as a soft Zzzz. Ibid. III. ii. 326 He meditated for a time and Zzzzed softly.

    1924 Dialect Notes V. 259 Z-z-z (buzzing, or snoring).

    1951 Blue Book Magazine Jan. 25/1 A spark danced between two terminals, a filament snake spat an irate, ‘Zzzt!’

    1966 L. COHEN Beautiful Losers I. 16 Hiccup, jerk, zzzzzz, snort.

    1967 V. C. WELBURN Johnny so Long II. i. 46 Lola: (makes buzzing noise) Zzzzzzz.

    1975 New Yorker 21 Apr. 36/3 David sits in the chair, puts his arms on the armrests, presses his neck against the back of the chair, and moves his feet together. ‘Zzzz,’ he says, and his head falls forward.

    1976 Cambridge Independent Press 16 Dec. II. 3/2 The zzzzz-noise of the electric hare gliding past the opening traps grabs everyone's attention.

    1983 Private Eye 4 Nov. 6/2 Once you have hit on a commercial product you just go on producing more of the same, over and..zzzz..over and..zzzz..over and..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    1984 Wall Street Jrnl. 9 Oct. 28/2 We suspect public interest..more nearly resembles a cartoonist's depiction of a man sawing wood{em}ZZZZZZZZZ.

    1984 Oxford Star 29/30 Nov. 19/3 Zzzzing off for forty winks on a regular basis may not sound much like Action Man stuff, but for Alex Gardner it's the most exciting part of the day.


    b. In colloq. phr. to catch some z's and varr., to get some sleep (where z represents the sound of snoring). U.S.

    Pronounced (zi-z) in the U.S.

    Source(s): Oxford English Dictionary - http://dictionary.oed.com/
  • 1 decade ago

    The phrase "Catch some Z's" came from the people who sometimes hum in their sleep. People said that it sounded like a ZZZZ sound, so they started to tell those people to "catch some Z's." And that's where it came from.

  • LK
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Well, "Doze, v., (means) to sleep lightly; nap (Prob. of Scandinavian origin."


    "Snooze, v. (means) to sleep lightly: nap (?)" [the question mark for origin]

    So perhaps through use of these words, and the fact that "snore, v., (means) To breathe with harsh snorting noises while sleeping (ME [Middle English] 'snoren', snort)" --it all came together that Zs are associated with sleeping.

    Not to mention the phrase "sleep like a log." (logs having usually been cut down by a chain-saw, which sounds like a million angry bees, amplified.)

    Catching some Zs.

    Source(s): all definitions from the American Heritage Dictionary
  • Elaine
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    The letter "Z" makes a sound as close to snoring as we can get and therefore was used to represent that noise. It became accepted in comic strips to illustrate snoring with zzzzzzzzzz thus...."catching some zzzzzz's"

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It is originally an English slang....the Z is Zeds in the English.

    Of course in the American the Z is Zees.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think it's cuz Z is the end of the Alphabet and Sleep is the end of your day. Good ? haha

  • 1 decade ago

    zzzzzzzzzzz is the way some people sound when they snore or are breathing in there sleep almost like humming of a bee.


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