Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Wednesday's Random Slang-o-rama: Catnap (by DMcC)

Hello all... My assistant slang-o-rama-ist, the euphonious DMcC (aka Devyn McConachie), returns with another post for your edification. Enjoy! - Ann

Devyn McConachie is a designer-editor-cartoonist, currently lurking about Portland, Oregon. Were it not for her wobbly landlubber legs and love of indoor-living, she would absolutely have taken up a career as a sea-pirate. Landlocked as she is, she instead fills her days with graphic design, animation, illustration, and copy editing.
For more info and to view her visual portfolio, visit this here link
 She also has an Etsy shop (arts, hats, and cards) right here 
As the days stretch longer and warmer, filled with buzzing of bees and rustling of leaves, I find myself more and more often nodding off in the afternoon, dazedly daydreaming of a sweet siesta... 

And I’m not alone—Ann’s office assistant, the Diva Miss Mia, is well-known for her slumbering prowess. With a snooze after every meal and regular dozes in the office, she’s always sleeping on the job. She is, undoubtedly, a master of the cat-nap.

The skilled snoozer, the Diva Miss Mia, prepares to catch her forty furry winks.

Now there’s a word! Before my eyelids droop too far, let’s see where cat-napping came from... 



 The Online Etymology Dictionary defines the noun cat-nap (also spelled catnap or cat’s nap) as “a short, light sleep,” which was first recorded in 1823; cat-nap as a verb emerged in 1859.

As I was prowling the web for more snooze clues, I came across an interesting tidbit of research: most animals have polyphasic sleep patterns, meaning that they sleep in more than one chunk each day. And according to research by historian A. Roger Ekirch, until relatively recently, we humans were polyphasic, too.

While studying letters, legal documents, medical records, and other written miscellany from before the Industrial Revolution, Ekrich came across the terms first sleep and second sleep. From context, he concluded that these were distinct periods of nighttime slumber, each lasting three or four hours, and with an hour or so of wakefulness in between. Those wee waking hours could be used for keeping watch, telling stories, interpreting dreams, committing petty crime, and any number of other activities.

How about that—two cat-naps a day, plus time to play!

-- But is she on her first or second sleep?
The Sleeping Beauty - Edward Burn-Jones, 1870-1890

And our snoozing tendencies didn’t stop with the Industrial Revolution. Consider the classic Mediterranean siesta (from the Latin sexta, or “sixth hour”), a post-lunch doze, popular in warm climates. Or how about the Japanese inemuri, the face-planting snooze of the exhausted and overworked?

Perhaps you’ve also heard of the power nap, a 10-30 minute daylight snooze (sometimes supplemented with a strong dose of coffee) for optimized productivity and cognitive performance. Somehow, though, the term power nap doesn’t hold the same appeal to me as the luxuriously lazy-sounding cat-nap.

So although the language has changed, perhaps we’ve always been catnappers at heart. As usual, maybe those cats know something that we don’t…

Two catnapping experts, hard at work.
Sleeping Girl (Girl With a Cat) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1880


Camille Minichino said...

I'm trying to stay awake to write this comment, Dev! I love the images you found, and here I thought the Diva Miss Mia was mine alone to feature. She is becoming an influencer!

Thanks for sharing this research!


Ann Parker said...

Thank you, Devyn, for your awesome entry and AMAZING research and lovely turn of phrase! Looking forward to your next post! (Now, to go take a catnap... Zzzzzz)

Mysti Berry said...

Cool! I had the impression that first & second sleep for humans was an adaptation to having to work during daylight hours...seems like it's not just that but a deeper impulse.

Thanks for the charming journey through 'catnap.'


Nannette Rundle Carroll said...

Devyn, I thoroughly enjoyed your well-researched and cleverly written piece on cat-napping! 🐈‍⬛💤 The pictures were amazing too! Thanks for the interesting romp! Nannette Rundle Carroll

Nannette Rundle Carroll said...

Devyn, I thoroughly enjoyed your well-researched and cleverly written piece on cat-napping! 🐈‍⬛💤 The pictures were amazing too! Thanks for the interesting romp! Nannette Rundle Carroll

Unknown said...

Wonderful history of catnap
... I'd say more but it's time for my catnap!

Liz V. said...

Resistance to industrialization must decrease with age. I love my naps. Thanks for affirming my doctor's advice to sleep as needed.

Staci M. said...

I enjoyed your history lesson. Reading about all this catnapping makes me want to schedule a nap for tomorrow!

Carole Price said...

Devyn, I never gave much thought to cat-nap because I never (unable) to take one. It would ruin my whole day. I did enjoy reading the history of the term.

Penny Warner said...

Love her work, no matter whether it's art or words. She's amazing.

Kim Hansen said...

Love the images both visual and crafted about polyphasic sleep.