What Does To Sleep, Perchance to Dream Mean?

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream Meaning

Definition: What happens after death? This quote is a euphemism for suicide.

It is common for people to quote this line when talking about sleeping or dreaming, rather than specifically suicide.

Origin of To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

This expression is a quote from the play Hamlet, written by the English playwright William Shakespeare around the year 1600. The main character, a prince, is giving a soliloquy contemplating suicide.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer…

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;

To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil…

This is perhaps the most famous bit of Shakespeare’s catalogue.

Examples of To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

to sleep perchance to dream The dialogue below shows two women discussing the Thanksgiving dinner they just finished eating.

Mila: That was delicious!

Betty: Yes, we did a great job cooking that turkey.

Mila: And we did a great job eating it as well!

Betty: Yes, we did fantastic with that too! And now I’m going to do a great job of going to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream.

Mila: I thought that line comes from a speech all about suicide.

Betty: I think you’re right, but it sounded good, so I said it.

quote to sleep perchance to dream This dialogue shows a couple of roommates arguing about the most famous lines from William Shakespeare.

John: I think the play Romeo and Juliet has the most famous lines.

Amanda: No way. What famous lines are in that play?

John: Haven’t you ever heard, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” What about “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun”?

Amanda: Yeah, but it’s still not as famous as the lines from Hamlet. Everyone knows “To be or not to be, that is the question” and “to sleep, perchance to dream.”

John: Okay, I’ll concede that it might be a tie.

More Examples

This excerpt describes how a restaurant got its name from a Shakespeare play.

  • “The Rub” comes from noted barbecue enthusiast Hamlet’s soliloquy about mortality and meat flavoring: “To sleep — perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub.” Levine is fond of telling interviewers that his mother, after a beverage or two, was known to stand on a chair at a party and deliver the whole speech from memory. When it came time to name the restaurant, Levine’s son Sam suggested “The Rub,” and it stuck. –Houston Press

The second excerpt is from an article about dreamer-to-dreamer communication.

And, yes, Oldis would have to see the flashes while staying asleep for successful dreamer-to-dreamer communication.

Perhaps Shakespeare nailed the challenge 500 years ago.

“To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub.” –OC Register


The expression to sleep, perchance to dream is a famous line from the play Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare.

In the play, Prince Hamlet is contemplating suicide. However, nowadays many people reference this line in relation to regular sleep and dreams, as opposed to the permanent sleep of death and the dreams of the afterlife.