English expression – Cat nap


What? Oh sorry, we were just having a cat nap.

Have you ever heard someone use this expression? It means to have a short nap during the day.

It is not hard to understand where the expression comes from: in the early 1800s, people began using this term to describe short periods of sleep during the day that were similar to those cats have. Cats are notorious for sleeping up to 12 to 16 hours a day! Sometimes they sleep for several hours, but often they just doze in the sunlight for minutes at a time.

However, do you know the origin of napping? It all started in Ancient Egypt. The cat was a sacred animal at that time so the Pharaohs began to  emulate this animal’s behaviour.

Nowadays, experts have said that short naps during the day are a great way of restoring energy and increasing productivity. Some famous nappers are Thomas Eddison, Ronald Reagon, Bill Clinton and Albert Einstein. Usually, when working adults take a nap, we do not call it a cat nap, we call it a power nap.


Notorious – well-known or famous especially for something bad.

Sacred – worthy of religious worship : very holy.

Emulate – to try to be like (someone or something you admire).

Examples of cat nap

I am so tired from working all day! I think I will have a cat nap before the party tonight, otherwise I will fall asleep!

Children and old people often cat nap – I wish I could, too!

Whenever my sister watches the TV in the afternoon she falls asleep on the sofa and has a short cat nap

Did you enjoy this lesson? TWEET IT OUT: I just learnt the expression “to cat nap” with @abaenglish and now I want one #esl

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