Meaning of “sleep” in the English Dictionary

"sleep" in British English

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uk /sliːp/ us /sliːp/

sleep noun (NOT AWAKE)

B1 [ U ] the resting state in which the body is not active and the mind is unconscious:

I must get some sleep - I'm exhausted.
See also
get/go to sleep

B1 to succeed in sleeping:

I couldn't get to sleep at all last night I was so worried.
You'll find that your baby usually goes to sleep after a feed.

B1 [ C ] a period of sleeping:

UK You must be tired after all that driving - why don't you have a little sleep?
He fell into a deep sleep.
You'll feel better after a good night's sleep.

More examples

  • Get a good night's sleep and you'll feel better able to cope.
  • She fell into a lovely deep sleep.
  • I'm not feeling very alert today - not enough sleep last night!
  • It was so hot that I didn't get off to sleep till three o'clock.
  • She grinds her teeth in her sleep.


uk /sliːp/ us /sliːp/ slept, slept

A1 [ I ] to be in the state of rest when your eyes are closed, your body is not active, and your mind is unconscious:

I couldn't sleep because of all the noise next door.
I slept late on Sunday morning.
How can Jayne sleep at night with all those worries on her mind!
We had dinner with Ann and Charles and slept the night there (= at their home).

[ T ] If a vehicle, tent, etc. sleeps a particular number of people, it provides enough space or beds for that number of people to be able to sleep in it:

The tent sleeps four comfortably.
sleep like a log informal

to sleep very well:

I went to bed early and slept like a log.
sleep on sth

C2 to delay making a decision about something important until the next day so that you have time to consider it carefully:

Can I sleep on it, and tell you my decision tomorrow?
sleep rough UK

to sleep outside because you have no home and no money:

Hundreds of kids are sleeping rough on the streets of the capital.

More examples

  • Having a milky drink before bed helps me sleep.
  • My brother and I slept in the same room.
  • He likes to sleep on the right side of the bed.
  • I'm so tired I could sleep in this chair!
  • I slept terribly last night.
adjective uk /ˈsliː.pɪŋ/ us /ˈsliː.pɪŋ/

She looked lovingly at the sleeping child.
See also

(Definition of “sleep” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sleep" in American English

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sleepnoun [ U ]

us /slip/

the resting state in which the body is not active and the mind is unconscious:

I usually sit up in bed and watch the TV news before going to sleep.

sleepverb [ I/T ]

us /slip/ past tense and past participle slept /slept/

to be in a resting state in which the body is not active and the mind is unconscious:

[ I ] I was too excited to sleep much that night.
[ T ] The boat sleeps four (= has space for four people to sleep) comfortably.

(Definition of “sleep” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)