English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Over the years, I have often debated whether the phrase is "In the morning, I'm going to sleep in." or "In the morning, I'm going to sleep out." My best guess is that it is a regional difference of convention.

Is it? Are there any real, historical or otherwise, reasons to prefer one over the other?

(It would be particularly nice, arm-chair linguistically, if it were "I will sleep out." but "I slept in.", though I quite doubt that fits anyone's usage.)

share|improve this question
FWIW: I have lved everywhere and I have never, ever, ever heard "sleep out" to mean "sleeping late." "Sleep out" means sleeping outside. – Joe Blow Jul 4 '11 at 11:30
Among the Irish authors I've read, I've only ever noticed it in Roddy Doyle: There's another reason he's late. He slept it out. --Well, he says. Declan never sleeps it out. Never. But the days just caught up with him; he hadn't slept since he'd arrived in New York. (Home to Harlem, from The Deportees and other stories) – MT_Head Jul 4 '11 at 17:05
@cindi - Good catch! In my defense, I did say "noticed", not "read"... I'd completely forgotten about Beckett! I was just thinking about WfG yesterday, but I haven't read it in years (and I've never seen it produced.) – MT_Head Jul 4 '11 at 18:01
I've seen the phrase "to sleep oneself out" in American English to mean "to sleep until one doesn't need to sleep anymore," but that doesn't sound like what the OP means... – chama Jul 4 '11 at 18:44
@cindi @head hmm, "slept it out" is a different phrase. I've never heard "slept out" used to mean "slept in". But if you say it's Irish, OK! – Joe Blow Jul 5 '11 at 5:04

The normal American English would be sleep-in if you plan on doing it on purpose or over-sleep if you do it on accident. Confusingly, sleep-over is different and refers to sleeping at somebody elses house. In the usage you describe, sleep-out is just a variant of sleep-in. The references I found were either British or ESL usage that looks like a second-language mistake. It doesn't look like it's a very common variant, you should stick to sleep-in. Here's the ngram

Ngram for sleep-in vs. sleep-out

share|improve this answer

I would say, no, it wasn't regional usage, and they aren't preferred over one or the other. They're just used in different places. "sleep in" has a different meaning from "sleep out".


a person who lives elsewhere than at the place of employment.
an act or instance of sleeping outdoors.

"Sleep-in" :

(intransitive) (idiomatic) To sleep late; to go on sleeping past one's customary or planned hour.

So, if you were going to "sleep late in the morning", I would use "sleep in", but if you were going to 'have a nap in the garden', I would use "sleep out".

That's my two coins.

share|improve this answer
No. Just no. Read the context that the OP posted. If they were planning on sleeping out of doors, they wouldn't be doing it just in the morning! Vary rarely does one go to bed normally and wake up outside in the morning. – Caleb Jul 4 '11 at 16:03

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.