Where does the expresion “to take forty winks” come from and What does it mean?

Though we’re not saying that the reading of the Thirty-nine Articles has an actual bearing on the “forty winks” or short nap that is likely to succeed that reading, or interrupt it, such a sequel could be inferred.

The Thirty-nine Articles, for the benefit of the unenlightened, are the articles of faith of the Church of England which the clergy are required to accept.

Adoption became legal by parliamentary action in 1571 in the reign of Elizabeth I. Needless to say, the perusal of these articles is likely to be considered most dreary.

At least they led a writer in Punch (November 16, 1832) to say: “If a man, after reading through the Thirty-nine Articles, were to take forty winks”, and that is the first literary record of this precise number of winks.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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