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The meaning and origin of the expression: I have not slept one wink

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I have not slept one wink


I have not slept at all.


Portrait of William ShakespeareThe notion of getting not even a single moment's sleep has been in the language since the 14th century. Robert Manning of Brunne, in his work Handlyng synne, 1303, records the phrase in Middle English:

"Ne mete ete, ne drank drynke, Ne slepte onely a-lepy wynke."

In language that is a little more accessible to most readers in the 21st century we have Shakespeare's use of the idea in Cymbeline, 1611:

O gracious lady,
Since I received command to do this business
I have not slept one wink.

See other phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.