April 17, 2013

Sleep tight

I am sure many have said this to children when putting them to bed, but what does sleep tight actually mean. There are two answers: one that has an 1812 connection and one that is the correct answer.

The ‘1812’ answer goes that when mattresses were supported by ropes, as many beds were in 1812, they needed to be periodically tightened in order to ensure the occupant did not fall through the bed. This explanation is not true. One reason is that when you say ‘sleep tight’ you are talking to a person, not a piece of furniture. I do not know anyone who wishes a bed to ‘sleep tight.’

The origin of the expression derives from the use of the word tightly. The word tightly means ‘soundly, properly, or well.’ This means when you say ‘sleep tight’ you are saying sleep soundly. The phrase fast asleep comes from the earlier expression ‘tight asleep,’ which has a similar origin to sleep tight.

If you want to see something related to sleep, you can visit Battlefield House in Stoney Creek on Saturday, April 20 at 12 p.m. for the unveiling of the Bicentennial Quilt. Click here to learn more about this free event.

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