What Does To Catch Some Z’s Mean?

Catch Some Z’s Meaning

Definition: To go to sleep.

The phrase to catch some z’s means to get some sleep. In English, the letter z is sometimes used as onomatopoeia, which is a word that imitates the sound that word represents. “Buzz” and “meow” are examples of onomatopoeia in English. In this context, the letter z is used to represent snoring.

Origin of To Catch Some Z’s

It is unclear how and when this particular phrase originated. One of the earliest recorded uses of the letter “z” to represent sound in found in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, from an 1852 journal entry,

  • meaning of zzzzThe dry z-ing of the locust is heard.

It was first used to represent snoring and sleep in a 1903 comic strip called Katzenjammer Kids. It is speculated that comic book artists were unsure how to represent sleep in their work, so they used “z” because of its association with the English idiom “sawing wood.”

This idiom also means to snore. When one saws wood with a chainsaw, he/she does so using a motion that looks like the letter “z.”

Examples of To Catch Some Z’s

catch some sleepThis phrase can be used in any verb tense. However, it is most commonly used in the infinitive form–as in to catch some z’s–and the future tense. It is least commonly used in the present and past tenses. The phrase carries the same meaning no matter the tense in which it is used.

This example conversation between two coworkers demonstrates the correct use of this phrase.

Anya: Are you going to come to the work social tonight?

Leonard: I don’t think so. I’m really tired, so I think I’ll go home and try to catch some z’s.

More Examples

  • Actually, it seemed that he had more time than he would have liked to catch some Z’s, at least according to an agent who despaired on Twitter whether his client would ever be able to get to his ultimate destination. –The Washington Post
  • Catch some z’s at late showing of Warhol’s ‘Sleep’. –LA Times

Summary

The English phrase to catch some z’s means to nap or sleep.