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In the Spanish language you can say dormir como un leño, an expression used when someone sleeps very soundly. You can also say dormir como un tronco, mixing another similar expression: estar hecho un tronco, with the same meaning.

I know by a Beatles song that the exact same expression does exist in English: sleep like a log, with the exact same meaning.

So, does the Spanish expression come from the English language or maybe another one? Or is it the other way round? I'm curious so since when has been the Spanish expression dormir como un leño used? Does it come indeed from another language, or is it our own creation and the similarities are just a coincidence?


Oldest case found so far:

De que's en la cama
duerme como un leño,
bien harto de migas
bruxo çahareño [...].

Juan de Timoneda, "Cancionero llamado Sarao de amor", 1561 (España).


Related question in the English Language site.


En español:

En español existe la expresión dormir como un leño, que se emplea cuando uno duerme profundamente. También empleo a veces dormir como un tronco, mezclando la expresión similar estar hecho un tronco, "estar profundamente dormido".

El caso es que por cierta canción de Los Beatles sé que en inglés también existe la misma expresión: sleep like a log, y con el mismo significado: "dormir muy profundamente".

Así pues, me preguntaba si la expresión podría ser un anglicismo, o provenir de algún otro idioma, o tal vez al revés. ¿Desde cuándo se usa la expresión dormir como un leño en español? ¿Podría provenir de la expresión inglesa sleep like a log? ¿O tal vez de otro idioma con una expresión similar? ¿O es solo coincidencia?

  • Y dormir como un tronco. Y no olvidemos que los ronquidos a veces se figuran como el sonido del serrucho. – aparente001 Jan 14 at 6:46
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Well maybe you are being too closed in this question. Why has it to come from either Spanish or English? What if it comes from a different language?

For instance in German this expression is used rather like wie ein Murmeltier schlafen, which means "to sleep like a marmot". Or in Finnish nukkua kuin tukki (sleep like a log).

In Spanish you can also find the expression as dormir como un lirón (animal de la familia de los roedores) even more frequently. The Italian counterpart is actually that dormire come un ghiro.

I believe it's very hard to say that the expression comes from any of these languages and probably comes from the lumberjack times, as a reference to the way the trees fell.

  • 1
    Fair point, I've updated the question to reflect the possibility you mention. Nonetheless note that you have not provided an answer to my questions. Since when is it used? You just say "probably comes from the lumberjack times", which is very vague. Is it a Spanish creation or did we take it from another language? You only mention that Finnish has a similar saying. If your answer is just "it's very hard to provide an answer" maybe you should make it a comment, but I would really like to see it expanded to include the answers requested. – Charlie Sep 9 '19 at 11:36
  • We also say "dormir como una marmota" in Spanish. I guess it's because they hibernate – luso Jan 10 at 10:06
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Only my own experience here: My English-born Dad used the expression in English as long as I can remember; and my Chilean carpentry teacher used it in Spanish: "dormir como un tronco", but neither of them learned it from the other, as they were both forty years old by the time they met.

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