sleep of the just

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From the idea that people who act justly have no worries and so sleep well, while unjust people are concerned about the consequences of their actions and so sleep poorly.



sleep of the just (uncountable)

  1. A deep and worry-free sleep.
    • 1859 November 26 – 1860 August 25, [William] Wilkie Collins, “The Narrative of Marian Halcombe, Taken from Her Diary”, in The Woman in White. [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, [], published 1860, OCLC 558180353, part I, page 139, column 2:
      Make your mind easy, Percival. Sleep, my son, the sleep of the just; and see what I will do for you when daylight comes to help us both.
    • 1867 October, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s Headaches”, in I[saac] W[illiam] Wiley, editor, The Ladies’ Repository: A Monthly Periodical, Devoted to Literature and Religion, volume XXVII, Cincinnati, Oh.: Poe & Hitchcock; [], OCLC 247142692, page 612, column 2:
      Then—Smith went to bed, and slept the sleep of the just, with not a glimmering of an idea that he was not the unselfishest and lovingest of husbands.
    • 1876, R[ichard] D[oddridge] Blackmore, “So is Mr. Sharp”, in Cripps, the Carrier. A Woodland Tale. [], volume I, London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, [], OCLC 9065818, page 169:
      He slept the sleep of the just, with just that gentle whisper of a snore which Aristotle hints at to prove that virtue being, as she must be, in the mean, doth in the neutral third of life maintain a middle course between loud snore and silent slumber.
    • 1915–1916, John Lea, “Sir Guy’s Atonement: A Christmas Term Story”, in The Boy’s Own Paper, volume XXXVIII, part 3, London: “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, [], OCLC 870086995, page 134, column 1:
      That night, as Grimley Grange was sleeping the sleep of the just, two shadowy forms crept through the shrubbery by the library window with all the stealthiness of professional house-breakers.
    • 1958 May 9, [Roseller Tarroza] Lim, “Manifestaciones del Sen. [Decoroso] Rosales”, in Republic of the Philippines Congressional Record (Senate of the Philippines), volume I, number 67, Manila, Philippines: Bureau of Printing, OCLC 12120699, page 1343, column 1:
      After the gentleman and Senator [Mariano Jesús] Cuenco interpellated me, I knew already that my bill was hopeless. That is why I presented that bill on February 4th, but it slept the sleep of the just in the Committee on Education.
    • 1988, Douglas Adams, chapter 3, in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, trade paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Gallery Books, published October 2014, →ISBN, page 20:
      You would probably not say he was sleeping the sleep of the just, unless you meant the just asleep, but it was certainly the sleep of someone who was not fooling about when he climbed into bed of a night and turned off the light.
    • 1999, Stephen King, “Hearts in Atlantis”, in Hearts in Atlantis, trade paperback edition, New York, N.Y.: Scribner, published November 2017, →ISBN, chapter 14, page 386:
      Lennie Doria tapped on my door a couple of nights later while I was cramming (Nate had been in the rack for an hour or more, sleeping the sleep of the just and the caught-up) and asked me if I had any interest in writing a paper about Crispus Atticus.
    • 2016 September, Vito Bruschini, chapter 25, in Anne Milano Appel, transl., The Prince, New York, N.Y.: Atria Paperback, →ISBN, page 172:
      All night long, she tossed and turned in bed, envious of Nennella, who shared the same room but didn't question things very deeply. The maid slept the sleep of the just, and a faint whistling came from her nose, like babies when they have a slight cold.
  2. (euphemistic, dated) A peaceful death or burial.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:death

Usage notes[edit]

The term is always preceded by the definite article the.

Related terms[edit]