Word of the Day – “ausschlafen”

Hello everyone,ausschlafen - this kitten knows what that means

and welcome to our German Word of the Day – this time with one of the best things ever:

ausschlafen

And actually, it’s more of a post about the whole family of schlafen with various prefix versions. But ausschlafen is so cool that I wanted to honor it by making it word of the day.
And before you all fall asleep while I am telling you stuff from the “who cares” bin, let’s jump right :)

So, schlafen of course the German brother of to sleep and they both come from an old root *(s)lē̌b- which was about being weak or without tension. This meaning is pretty well preserved in the German words schlapp, which is a colloquial term for someone who has no strength, and schlaff, which is about something having no inner tension.

  • Ich fühl mich heute irgendwie schlapp.
  • I somehow feel weak today.
  • Nach der Meditation ist mein ganzer Körper ganz schlaff.
  • After the meditation, my whole body is completely flaccid.

Another relative in German is apparently the word der Lappen, which means rag or cloth, and which usually does lack inner tension… I mean, unless it’s so dirty that it stiffens up.
Anyway, the German etymological source I use also connects the Latin branch of lābī   to the family, which includes words like labile, collapse or labour. Which would make sense, because labour can wear you out quite a bit.
English etymology didn’t mention that connection though, so don’t use it for a scientific paper. It’s just a neat way to remember words and build a neural network.
Anyway, so the origin of schlafen is a root that was about being weak, having no inner tension, and that’s a perfect match.
Grammatically, however, schlafen is NOT a weak verb. It’s one of the strong ones verbs, which are called strong because… I don’t know… maybe they can bench more than 40 pounds or whatever. These grammar terms don’t really make sense to me.
But yeah, in the present, we have this one-up for the vowel from a to ä for the second and third person, the real past form is schlief and the ge-form is geschlafen.

  • ich schlafe
  • du schläfst
  • er schläft
  • Ich habe gut geschlafen.

Other than that, there’snot much to say about schlafen, so let’s move on to the prefix versions.

Prefix versions of “schlafen”

And even though its a prefix version of schlafen, schlafen itself wouldn’t be possible without its first prefix version… einschlafen.
Looks a bit like to sleep in, but no… einschlafen is the German word for to fall asleep.

  • I fall asleep while learning German.
  • Ich schlafe ein, während ich Deutsch lerne.
  • I fell asleep as late as three yesterday.
  • Ich bin gestern erst um 3 eingeschlafen.

You ENTER the sleep if you will. And this notion of entering is also why the spoken past in the second example is build with sein and not with haben. You’re moving from one state to another.

Cool.
Now, once you’re managed to einschlafen, the next desirable prefix version is durchschlafen,  which is about not waking up up in the middle of the night.
But even if you do wake up because you need to pee or feed the elephant in the room some thoughts – it doesn’t matter, if there is no alarm the next day and you can just turn around and add a few dozen minutes of dozing.
And THAT is ausschlafen. To sleep as long as you want, or until you’re well rested.
It’s usually translated by to sleep in and to sleep late.
The latter is a bit off, though, because ausschlafen is not really about a time… it simply means that you sleep as long as YOU want. If you wake up at 4 am everyday, well rested and without alarm, that would still be ausschlafen, but you wouldn’t call it “sleep late”.
Anyway, here’s a couple of examples:

  • Perfekt! Morgen kann ich ausschlafen!
  • Perfect! Tomorrow I can sleep in /I can sleep as long as I want.
  • Yesterday, I slept in.
  • Gestern habe ich ausgeschlafen.

And as you can see, ausschlafen uses HABEN for the spoken past, because unlike einschlafen, that one is NOT about a change of state.
A bit confusing, maybe, but don’t worry…
it gets worse. Because you will also hear this:

  • Ich bin ausgeschlafen.

This is also a correct and idiomatic sentence and especially for a beginner, it might look like it’s a spoken past of ausschlafen.
But what’s really going on here is that ausgesschlafen is used as an adjective, like well rested.
Here they are back to back…

  • Ich habe ausgeschlafen.
  • I(‘ve) slept in.
  • Ich bin ausgeschlafen.
  • I‘m well rested.

The first one talks about what you did, the second one about how you are. The overall message is really similar, but grammar wise it’s quite different.
Cool.
Now there’s one last prefix version that we need to mention: verschlafen. And this one might be the result of some legit ausschlafen on your part, because verschlafen means about missing by sleeping. You can either “verschlafen” something specific, like a scene in a movie or a meeting.

  • I missed the end of the movie, because I was sleeping.
  • Ich habe das Ende des Films verschlafen.
    (lit.: “I slept away the end of the movie.”)

Or you can just plain verschlafen, which the to oversleep. Like… you set and alarm, but it didn’t wake you up, for instance.

  • Mist, ich habe verschlafen. Jetzt komme ich zu spät zur Arbeit.
  • Damn, I overslept. Now I am late for work.

Just like ausgeschlafen, verschlafen is also used as an adjective in the sense of sleepy.

  • Das ist ein verschlafenes kleines Städtchen.
  • This is a sleepy little town.

But we should not that the more common word for sleepy, particularly in the context of being tired is schläfrig.

  • Ich bin heute sehr schläfrig.
  • I’m very sleepy today.

Let’s also give a quick shoutout to the verbs entschlafen and vorschlafen. Entschlafen is rather poetic sounding word for today, quite similar to the English to pass away. And vorschlafen is what you want to do before going to a 4 day festival – building up a “stockpile of sleep”.  Science says that it’s is not possible, of course, but science is freaking B.O.R.I.N.G!
And speaking of boring… just like in English, schlafen mit someone commonly used as a word for having sex.
And I’m not sure you got that boring reference right immediately.

  • Thomas slept with Maria.
  • Thomas hat mit Maria geschlafen.

Someone finally scored.
Cool.
So that’s it for today. I totally forgot to mention the noun der Schlaf, which is the sleep, but it’s no problem because I mentioned it now.
This was our quick little look at ‘the Schlafens
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Oh… and here’s a picture of kitten. Because no one sleeps better than them.

a sleeping kitten

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Malaz Sukar
Malaz Sukar
1 year ago

Thank you!

Kalidhasan Rajendran
Kalidhasan Rajendran
2 years ago

Einfach,, Wow“

absolutelysundu
absolutelysundu
3 years ago

I do have question in connection to “verstanden” und “verschalfen”. Both obviously have same prefix. But “ver”standen means “under”standing and “ver”schalfen means “over”sleeping.. wieso? does that mean the perfix for “over” and “under” are the same ? or is it again the long long ago, so long ago, story of some latin root? Just a curiousity…

Germanstudent
Germanstudent
3 years ago

Hello Wonderful Article.
I would like to ask a doubt.
How could we say that , For eg , My baby sleeps with me.
Thanks in advance.

Germanstudent
Germanstudent
3 years ago
Reply to  Germanstudent

or in another way, for eg: , My baby yesterday slept along with me.
( Sorry, I don’t know how to edit the previous comment, That’s why i am sending it in the Reply section.)

Fatima
Fatima
3 years ago

That was from me, Fatima^

Fatima
Fatima
3 years ago

Hi! Can someone tell me if there is a term in German for that feeling of relief that comes when one throws oneself into the bed after an emotionally/physically tiring day?

Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Haha no :D
But someone suggested German might, considering the wide range and variety of feelings it hosts.

Prashant
Prashant
4 years ago

My colleague always ask me after i arrive at work in the morning, ausgeschlafen??

I dont know what to answer!! Is it meant sarcastically, or she really want to know whether i sleep good.

Its weird to start conversation of the day with this question. Can you pls tell me the possible answers in this situations!!

Prashant
Prashant
4 years ago

first question my colleagues ask at work is,

ausgeschlafen??

I dont know what to answer. do they really want to know whether i had a good sleep or it is Little sarcastic.

Abdul Basith
Abdul Basith
4 years ago

Encountered ausschlafen for the first time. Thought of writing a mail. Woke up and the search bar slapped me like, “hey! you mail for little things..” Searched and the result was exactly what I wanted. Read it completely. Enjoyed it as usual. Thanks a lot!!

crittermonster
4 years ago

I’m with person243… It’s easiest to think of it as a form of the expression, “I’m all x-ed out”, where x is the thing you did until you can’t do it any more.

A person who’s all slept out is well-rested, with a brain that’s freshened up and ready to go.

Kinjal
Kinjal
5 years ago

Als ich fast beim Einschlafen war/bin

john12345school
5 years ago

How would you say ‘ Just as i was about to fall asleep’?

person243
person243
6 years ago

About the prefix “aus-“: I think the “aus” in “ausschlafen” is the same as in “auskurieren”, “ausheilen”, “auslaufen” (not water but a contract), “ausgehen” (not to the disco but the food reserves), “aushalten” and “auswachsen”. You do sth. until you are out of something. The something is “tiredness” for “ausschlafen”, an illness for “auskurieren”, a hurting for “ausheilen”, a legal binding for “auslaufen”, a reserve for “ausgehen”, an unnice situation for “aushalten” and a phase for “auswachsen”.

So a bit of “out” is always in these words. I mean a more precise translation for “to sleep in” would be “in den Tag hinein schlafen”. The “out” is quite sensible here I think. What do you think?

Mary
Mary
2 years ago
Reply to  person243

I kind of think that the “aus” in ausschlafen indicates that the person “completed” their sleep cycle without being disturbed by an external source, such as an alarm clock. Like the equivalent of Vollendung in relation to sleep. Not just getting up, but the reaching of the natural culmination of sleep (waking) on one’s own (process plus autonomic experience of process completion). German seems to “think” like this.

draven
draven
7 years ago

How do you say

To fall asleep on someone
To fall asleep on you

jastonite
jastonite
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

draven can, of course, speak for himself, but to me “To fall asleep on someone/you” probably means one of two things:
1) Literally, to fall asleep on top of somebody, maybe resting one’s head on another’s shoulder or something. A cat or a puppy would “fall asleep on me”.
2) To fall asleep when one is supposed to stay awake, maybe with some responsibility toward another. Typically this would be phrased “He was supposed to watch the door, but he fell asleep on me”. For some reason it would sound a little awkward to say it the other way, “I was watching the door, but I fell asleep on you” doesn’t quite sound natural.

Sorry for butting in. I’m just in a commenting mood. I love reading this blog.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Danke.
Ich habe aber noch eine frage. Und zwar bezüglich verschlafen.
Kann man da ein Objekt(Akkusativ) anwenden um auszudrücken was er genau verschlafen hat.
zB. Heute habe ich den Unterricht verschlafen.

Maria T.
Maria T.
6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Kann ich das folgendes sagen um zu ausdrücken, dass man im Unterricht war aber da geschlafen hat (z.B. weil der Unterricht so langweilig war):

1. Der Unterricht war so langweilig, dass ich eingeschlafen bin und bis zum Ende des Unterricht durchschlafen habe.
2. Heute habe ich den Unterricht durchschlafen.

Oder benutzt man nur “schlafen”? Etwa so…

2. Der Unterricht war so langweilig, dass ich eingeschlafen bin und bis zum Ende des Unterricht geschlafen habe.

Ich habe den Eindruck, dass ich im erster Satz entweder “durchschlafen” oder nur “schlafen” benutzen kann, aber nicht im zweiter…aber bin ich mich nicht so sicher…

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Kann man ausschlafen und verschlafen reflexiv verwenden?
Ich möchte mich endlich mal ausschlafen.
Morgen kannst du dich ausschlafen.
Ich habe mich ausgeschlafen/verschlafen.

um
um
8 years ago

Your pronunciation guides are so wrong :/ it’s a shame when they’re such good articles. “Shluhfen” would sound nothing like schlafen :/

Trevor
Trevor
10 years ago

Hi again, Emanuel.
Very helpful discussion of the intricacies of the schlafen family; now I too am, if you can forgive the pun, ‘schlaftrunken.’
Regarding ‘ausgeschlafen = sharp’: In English ‘sharp’ is used fairly regularly to mean ‘clever,’ at least in the positive sense (quick-witted, keen, intelligent, etc.). Is it not the same with the German ‘scharf’?

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ja, “sharp” finde ich gar nicht schlecht als Übersetzung von “ausgeschlafen” im Sinne von “clever, smart.”

Vielleicht auch “bright”… aber ich habe den Eindruck, dass “ausgeschlafen” auch etwas mit Wachsamkeit zu tun hat: “Die Lehrerin ist eine richtig ausgeschlafene Frau. Die Schüler schaffen es niemals, sie auszutricksen.” Oder? “Bright” bedeutet wirklich nur “intelligent.”

surgotai
surgotai
10 years ago

I came for ausschlafen, I stayed until I had to go sleep! Nice article.