phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Night Night

Posted by ESC on October 17, 2000

In Reply to: Night Night posted by Simon Carter on October 17, 2000

: My son has asked why do we say "Night Night" to him instead of Good Night? Is there any reason for this.

"As they had done in England, early colonists bid each other good night, sleep soundly, have a good night, and God give you a good night. Our American admonition 'sleep tight' became common in the 1880s, as did our breezier nighty-night ." From "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).

Mr. Flexner doesn't say why people started saying "nighty-night" (or night night). But I think it's probably a case of a "family expression" that came to be used widely. I am guessing that some time back in the 1880s a small child said "nighty-night" instead of "good night" and started it all. (Paul Dickson wrote a book called "Family Words" that is a collection of family expressions and slang.)