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. Jan 14, 2020 at 6:46
  • I don’t have an answer right now, but there are similar expressions in many other European languages: dormir como uma pedra (Portuguese), dormir com un soc/tronc (Catalan), dormir com un loir / une marmotte (French), dormire como una marmotta (Italian), doirmi come on sodoirmant / on taesson / ene sokete (Walloon), schlafen wie ein Stein/Murmeltier (German). As such I suspect the phrase is very old and may have arisen independently in different languages. Also note the Spanish alternative phrases dormir como un lirón / una marmota.
    – jacobo
    Apr 29, 2020 at 7:50

3 Answers 3


There are similar expressions in almost all indo-european languages as far back, that I know, as in classical Greek (IIRC in Selene's myth the shepherd is sleeping "like a fallen log"), so it's probably a very old expression. I can't give you exact references but they should be relatively easy to find with a search through the Web.

Note that "leño" and "tronco" (at least in Castillian Spanish) have very different connotations: a "leño" generally means wood cut so as to be ready for a chimney, open fire, etc. (thus it's closer to the English "billet") while "tronco" refers to a whole or a big part of a tree "trunk" (alive or otherwise).


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, 2019 at 11:36
  • We also say "dormir como una marmota" in Spanish. I guess it's because they hibernate
    – luso
    Jan 10, 2020 at 10:06

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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