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How many ways are there of saying that someone didn't sleep all night? In my country, it can be expressed with just an adjective or a noun; what is about English?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I've always liked: "I had an all-nighter."

This generally refers to a night out on the town, night-time shift work, or cramming for exams. Something of that nature.

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In Australian English we also use to pull an all-nighter, meaning to work (on a project) all night. – jsj Jun 1 '11 at 0:00
I think this is what I was looking for. – igordcard Jun 1 '11 at 2:47
You pull all-nighters in the U.S., too. – JPmiaou Oct 28 '11 at 14:46

You have a choice: an insomnia, a sleepless night (the noun is sleeplessness), a wakeful night (wakefulness), a restless night (restlessness).

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Oh, by the way, we use an adjective too. Let me edit the question. – igordcard May 31 '11 at 21:05
I don't think insomnia can take an article. – Marthaª Oct 28 '11 at 13:51

Insomnia perhaps but you still need something like "I lay awake all night with insomnia" which is a bit redundant.

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Yes, the cause doesn't need to be insomnia though. – igordcard May 31 '11 at 20:49

There is also the word fitful, as in "I had a fitful sleep last night," which means the sleep was intermittent and not restful, not a proper night's sleep at all.

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I have heard the word white night used for this, but I think this is taken from other languages.

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I certainly would have no clue what you meant by "white night" without a lot of further context. "White knight" is a set phrase in English. "White night" is not. – Marthaª Oct 28 '11 at 13:52
It's used in Italian, passare la notte in bianco = (literally) to pass a night in white, i.e. Nowadays understood to stay up all night; but the true meaning of this expression lies deep in medieval history. – Mari-Lou A Sep 28 '13 at 6:53
I think I was thinking of the French "nuit blanche" – BlueWhale Sep 30 '13 at 14:08

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