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I am wondering which one is the exact expression.

I thought that here "crash" is used in place of "occupy", which means the first one is the correct expression. On the other hand I have always heard the second expression.

A "google-fight" suggests to use the second one, but I get hits for the first phrase too.

Which of the two is correct?

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2 Answers 2

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crash someone's couch

would mean that one were literally crashing the couch into something.

crash on someone's couch

is what you're looking for. It is an idiomatic expression that refers to sleeping on someone's couch.

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    well, this is my belief too. You didn't add anything to what I know. I am looking for a reference. In the dictionary, you can find expressions such as "My son's friends crashed our house last weekend" (see thefreedictionary.com/crash), where the meaning is not "crash the house into something" :)
    – Alessandro
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 15:50
  • You crash parties, but you crash on couches. "My son's friends crashed our house last weekend" means they came uninvited. "My son's friends crashed in our house last weekend" means they slept there (possibly with invitations). Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 15:56
  • As far as I know, the proper method of saying that would be "crashed at our house". I'm pretty sure that "crashed our house" would not be the correct phrase unless in the event of a party or other such event. In such a case, it refers to entering uninvited.
    – 4rkain3
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 15:56
  • ok, thanks. I will wait if anyone finds a good reference for this and then accept the answer.
    – Alessandro
    Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 16:18
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    @Alessandro: Here's a definition for the (highly informal slang) usage crash = sleep. The other sense you're thinking of derives from gate-crashing and is specific to parties. I'm not aware of any contexts where to crash means to occupy. Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 16:57
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The Cambridge online dictionary has this entry which includes the slang definitions for crash.

These are (with examples)

crash verb (SLEEP) [ Intransitive ] informal

to sleep at someone else's house for the night, especially when you have not planned it: They crashed on my floor after the party.

and

crash verb (ENTER WITHOUT PERMISSION) [ Transitive ] informal

to go to a party or other event without an invitation: We tried to crash the party, but the bouncers wouldn't let us in.

The definitions make the distinction between the intransitive and transitive verbs.

The transitive one (to enter without permission) takes an object so "My son's friends crashed our house at the weekend", being transitive, means that they entered without permission.

The intransitive one does not take an object so "He crashed my sofa last night" does not mean that he slept there with permission. It means either that he entered the sofa without permission (which is unlikely as it does not make much sense) or that the verb is being used in accordance with the first non-slang definition of the verb:

[ Intransitive or Transitive ] If a vehicle crashes or someone crashes it, it is involved in an accident, usually a serious one in which the vehicle is damaged and someone is hurt:

or in accordance with the second non-slang definition:

crash verb (MAKE A NOISE)

[ Intransitive or Transitive, usually + adv/prep ] to hit something, often making a loud noise or causing damage:

Since a sofa is soft the "make a noise" definition is as unlikely as the "entered without permission" definition so we can only conclude that he caused the sofa to impact on something causing serious damage.

In order to comply with the intransitive slang defintion we need to insert a preposition before the place where the action took place to stop its being an object so we have sentences like

He crashed on our sofa last night

or

He crashed at our house last night

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  • What really needs an explanation here, though, is how is this sense of crash (sleep at someone else's house for the night) related to its other senses. In all its other senses the word stands for an activity that involves force and often something akin to violence; how did that word end up being also used for sleeping, which is inherently peaceful?
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 15:32
  • @jsw It seems to me that the slang term is descriptive of the way an exhausted person desperate for sleep can collapse onto any available surface and fall asleep. A bit like the way a company can 'crash' without warning.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 21:00

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