In the Macmillan's dictionary

doze (verb)
to sleep for a short time, especially during the day 

nap (verb)
to sleep for a short period of time, usually during the day

snooze (verb)
to sleep for a short period of time, especially during the day

Are these three words really equivalent? I was taught in childhood, that no absolute synonyms exist. But it was not told about English...

I have tried different dictionaries, but mostly one of these words is explained through another one. Or simply, as in Macmillan, the same definitions are given.


2 Answers 2


To nap seems to indicate a conscious decision to actually sleep for a while:

I think I will take a short nap before leaving for the party.

As such, I also think that of the three options, napping lasts the longest, you can actually prepare for a nap and go to bed for it).

I dozed off for a while as John went through the 12th power point of the meeting.

To doze, or to doze off, brings to mind what happens during a boring meeting. I don;t think one would consciously decide to doze for a while. I also do not expect someone to go to bed to doze, and usually someone that dozes off will be nudged awake by a colleague :P Someone who dozes off does not usually get to enjoy real sleep.

I was late for work today because I hit the snooze button too often.

To snooze is a verb I know mostly from my digital alarm clock, and it gives me 9 minutes of silence during which I do not really get a chance for any deep or real sleep. I'd imagine that to snooze is something you do for a (more or less) predetermined, very short period of time, without the intention of actually sleeping.

  • It is very interesting. (why only they don't have it in dictionaries!) ... I have the snooze button, too. But there should be some meaning for snooze apart from this electronic one. Is your meaning the reason the reason why this very verb was chosen for the button, or on the contrary, the electronic meaning appeared accidentally and later created the non-electronic one?
    – Gangnus
    Jan 29, 2014 at 8:41
  • I don't know, but I would guess that the meaning predates the button. From the use of the button I would surmise that to snooze indicates you plan to doze off for a short while (as opposed to the normal doze which is unplanned), but without the intention to actually sleep, and without actually going to bed or laying down in a comfortable way. (I imagine I could snooze for a while during a train trip.)
    – oerkelens
    Jan 29, 2014 at 8:50
  • I see. Really, I love all three of them, even if dozing could be dangerous... But so sweet!
    – Gangnus
    Jan 29, 2014 at 9:05
  • Sorry, have I understood correctly, that "doze" needs "off"? Then it is even greater difference.
    – Gangnus
    Jan 29, 2014 at 9:09
  • I don't think it needs it - but I usually use and encounter it in that way, describing the action of going from being awake to a dozing state. Once someone dozed off, you can of course say he is dozing.
    – oerkelens
    Jan 29, 2014 at 9:12

While nap, snooze and doze mean sleep; nap and snooze are intentional while doze isn't.

Snooze differs from nap; the former continues from previous sleep. You were sleeping and then awaken by something like an alarm clock, or its just time to wake up, so you decide to continue sleeping for a short period before getting up. While nap is a new sleep, never say “I just took a short nap” or “short snooze” because both already mean short sleeps.

To doze can be long. "I went home and felt so tired that I just dozed off on the sofa till morning". That makes sense because something unintentional cannot be planned for how long a period.

Just a reminder... never doze off at the steering wheeel because you never know if and when you will wake up.

  • It seems, you cannot edit. I had joined your answers. Hope, it will be agreed with. I don't want to upvote the post that will be obviously deleted later.
    – Gangnus
    Jun 26, 2017 at 9:05
  • 2
    @Gangnus You should instead suggest that the writer should edit the earlier post to add relevant material, if this is not actually intended as a separate answer. Large edits will almost always be rejected.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 26, 2017 at 9:49
  • @AndrewLeach But the author cannot edit due to the low reputation yet! Or not??
    – Gangnus
    Jun 26, 2017 at 9:53
  • @Gangnus Authors can always edit their own posts.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 26, 2017 at 9:54
  • @AndrewLeach Sorry. For several years already I am entering Stackexchange sites with 100points and I have forgotten newbie's rights.
    – Gangnus
    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:08

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