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Forty Winks

A short nap. Forty is an indefinite number, meaning a few. Thus, we say, “A, B, C, and forty more.” Coriolanus says, “I could beat forty of them” (iii. 1). (See Forty.)

“The slave had forty thousand lives.”

Shakespeare: Othello, iii. I.

I loved Ophelia; forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum.

Shakespeare: Hamlet, v. 1.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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