What Does the Expression “Forty Winks” Mean and Where Did the Phrase Come From?

In 1571 the Church of England introduced thirty-nine articles which clergymen of the church were required to accept before their ordination.

An 1872 publication of the British humor magazine Punch suggested that reading these catechisms was tedious and that their meaning could be missed:

“If a man, after reading through the thirty-nine articles were to take forty winks.”

what does the expression forty winks mean and where did the phrase come from scaled

From this point on, “forty winks” has meant a brief nap.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.