in the arms of Morpheus



In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Morpheus is the god of dreams, and subsequently he was often referred to as the god of sleep. The name is borrowed from Latin Morpheus, from Ancient Greek Μορφεύς (Morpheús), from μορφή (morphḗ, form, shape) (alluding to the fact that Morpheus appeared in dreams in the forms of different people) + -εύς (-eús, suffix forming masculine nouns indicating persons concerned with particular things).[1]


Prepositional phraseEdit

in the arms of Morpheus

  1. (literary, figuratively) Asleep, sleeping.
    Synonym: (obsolete) in Morpheus' arms
    • 1821 April 14, The Literary Gazette: or, Journal of Criticism, Science, and the Arts [], volume I, number 15, Philadelphia, Pa.: James Maxwell, [], OCLC 877455377, page 238, column 3:
      [N]ight had covered the world with her sable curtain, and wrapped the peaceful sisterhood in the arms of Morpheus.
    • 1822, [Walter Scott], chapter XII, in Peveril of the Peak. [], volume III, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., OCLC 2392685, page 303:
      [L]ong before Julian had closed an eye, the heavy breathing from Sir Geoffrey Hudson's pallet declared that the dwarf was already in the arms of Morpheus.
    • 1823, [James Fenimore Cooper], chapter XV, in The Pioneers, or The Sources of the Susquehanna; [], volume I, New York, N.Y.: Charles Wiley; [], OCLC 1076549695, page 221:
      Benjamin here fell back in his chair, and soon gave vent to certain ominous sounds, which resembled, not a little, the growling of his favourite animal, the bear itself. Before, however, he was quite locked, to use the language that would suit the Della-cruscan humour of certain refined critics of the present day, "in the arms of Morpheus," he spoke aloud, observing due pauses between his epithets, the impressive terms of "monkey," "parrot," "pic-nic," "tar pot," and "linguisters."
    • 1853, [George Ballentine], chapter XVIII, in Autobiography of an English Soldier in the United States Army. [], New York, N.Y.: Stringer & Townsend, [], OCLC 8713856, page 202:
      [A]s we were tired with the excitement and fatigues of the day, we were soon folded in the arms of Morpheus.
    • [1867, Ivan Sergheïevitch Turgenef [i.e., Ivan Turgenev], chapter XX, in Eugene Schuyler, transl., Fathers and Sons [], New York, N.Y.: Leypoldt and Holt, OCLC 1320657, page 144:
      "I think that the travellers would do well to abandon themselves to the arms of Morpheus," said Vasili Ivanovitch. / "That means that it is time to go to bed," said Bazarof. "I approve of the proposition. Come!"]
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, “[Episode 16: Eumaeus]”, in Ulysses, London: The Egoist Press, published October 1922, OCLC 2297483, part III [Nostos], pages 593–594:
      [T]he watcher of the corporation, [] shifted about and shuffled in his box before composing his limbs again in the arms of Morpheus.
    • 1932 September 17, “Modern Rip Van Winkles”, in The Pathfinder, volume 39, number 2020, Washington, D.C.: Pathfinder Publishing Co., OCLC 11609867, page 18, column 1:
      Old Rip Van Winkle's long sleep record, which, according to [Washington] Irving’s story of the famous legendary character of the Hudson Valley, was 20 years, is excelled by each of us who lives to a fairly ripe old age. Thus truth is again stranger than fiction, says Dr. Donald A. Laird, of Colgate university, for by the time we are 60 years old we have spent 20 years or one-third of our lives in the arms of Morpheus.
    • 1939, F. C. Devericks, “Report of the Chief of Staff”, in Proceedings of the 39th National Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States: Columbus, Ohio, August 21 to 26, 1938 (76th Congress, 1st Session, House Document; no. 39), Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 1065775954, page 139:
      You and the men under you go to sleep on duty, or desert your post and while you are wrapped in the arms of Morpheus or A.W.O.L. our enemies break through our lines, destroy all the fortifications which we have started [].
    • 2013 March 15, Jan Cheal, chapter 5, in The Bee Keepers, Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 24:
      He looked over his shoulder and saw that Susan was still safely in the arms of Morpheus as the bedclothes gently rose and fell.
  2. (by extension, figuratively) In a state of being completely forgotten, or of unawareness.
    • [1921, Music News and Herald, London: Publishing Office, OCLC 171625970, page 333, column 1:
      The [Arturo] Toscanini Tour left Italy for the United States, and the continued interest sustained by the progress of the tour brought us back to the war days when we breathlessly awaited the communiqués of offensives and counter-offensives. After which we fell back into the arms of Morpheus. The only signs of life to be found are at the Contanzi Theatre in Rome.]

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ Morpheus, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2002; “Morpheus, proper n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further readingEdit