What does the idiom "be sound asleep" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase be sound asleep, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression be sound asleep used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "be sound asleep"


The idiom to be sound asleep means to be deeply and soundly asleep, so that you cannot be awakened easily. Generally, this phrase is used to describe someone who is sleeping so deeply that they will not or cannot be woken up. It can also be used in a more figurative sense to mean that someone is unaware or oblivious to something, being asleep to the situation.


The phrase “to be sound asleep” is not found in written English until the nineteenth century, when it first appears in the poem “The Kings Grave” by Walter Scott, published in 1850. This phrase is likely derived from the older phrase “to sleep sound,” which dates to the fifteenth century.


The phrase “to be sound asleep” is most commonly used to describe someone who is sleeping so deeply and soundly that they cannot be awoken. It can also be used to describe someone who is oblivious to or unaware of a situation, being asleep to it. Additionally, this phrase can be used to indicate that someone is no longer in a certain state or situation, such as being sound asleep to the idea of their own mortality or sound asleep to their own vulnerability.

Example Sentences

  • He was sound asleep, and no amount of shouting could wake him.
  • She was sound asleep to the fact that she was being taken advantage of.
  • The whole family was sound asleep when the tornado hit.
  • They were sound asleep to the dangers of the situation.

The meanings of the words in the "be sound asleep" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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