I heard a friends say that he's going to take a small nap. Is this correct usage? I thought we only take light naps.

  • 7
    short nap is better.
    – user13107
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 6:09
  • 4
    Also a quick nap.
    – user66974
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 6:13
  • 1
    Also a cat nap ;-)
    – Jim
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 6:26
  • 1
    How about a little nap? That's done a lot. Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 6:30
  • 1
    My jacket has a short nap. Although it's worn away in some places.
    – user63230
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 6:34

2 Answers 2


'Small' doesn't make sense here because the adjective referring to the length of time (duration) of a nap. Small is more of a descriptor for the overall size of something rather than length in particular (such as the saying, "it's a small world").

'Short' is better because it is an adjectives used to describe length (of time or of objects). You might say "that was a short drive" or "the dog is playing with a short stick."

'Quick' is also appropriate here because it is used to describe duration (length of time), such as "it was a quick meeting."

A 'light' nap is also correct, but it is not referring to the length of the nap. It is instead is stating that the nap does not involve a deep sleep, and typically that implies a shorter nap.

Edit: saying "light nap" is similar to "light snack". Snacks are smaller than a meal, but adding the modifier 'light' implies it's a smaller snack than usual, possibly with healthier or less filling food. A light nap might be 5 minutes of just closing your eyes and breathing deeply, barely even sleeping, as opposed to a 2-hour nap where you likely reach deep stages of sleep.

  • No nap can involve deep sleep. No nap can be otherwise than short and light.
    – Kris
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 7:14
  • 1
    Perhaps you only take light, short naps, but napping can involve deep sleep, and since a 5 minute nap is shorter than a 2 hour nap, it is still appropriate to modify the word nap with words like short.
    – AlannaRose
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 5:03
  • 1
    There's the 10 minute super-nap. Also, there's power naps, cat naps, 40-winks, etc. All these are different kinds of naps and not merely different ways of saying nap.
    – Tucker
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 17:42

I would assume neither would be necessary. Your friend "is going to take a nap" should suffice since by definition a nap is brief sleep during the day.

  • 2
    But if you were going to prefix an adjective indicating that the nap is shorter than one would expect the average nap to be...
    – Stan
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 15:10

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