Faire une nuit blanche

Faire une nuit blanche
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French Expression

Meaning to have a sleepless night, not sleep a wink; be up all night
Literally to do a white night*
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Pronunciation [feh roo nwee bla(n)sh]
IPA   [fɜ ʁy nɥi blãʃ]

Usage notes: Une nuit blanche refers to a sleepless night, but why? As a long-time sufferer of many an endless night, my personal interpretation is that "white" refers to light, in contrast with the lovely darkness found behind the closed eyelids of those lucky enough to sleep.

Par exemple…

J’ai fait une nuit blanche samedi soir.   I didn’t sleep a wink Saturday night.
S’il boit du café après 18h, il fera une nuit blanche.   If he drinks coffee after 6pm, he won’t be able to sleep.

But it’s not limited to insomnia. Une nuit blanche can also be a deliberate choice, such as an all-night study session or a party that lasts until the cows come home.

On a fait une nuit blanche en étudiant pour cet examen.   We stayed up all night studying for this test.
J’ai invité tous nos amis, on fait une nuit blanche.   I invited all our friends, we’re having an all-night party.

Variation: passer une nuit blanche

Synonymous expressions

  • ne pas dormir de la nuit
  • faire une nuit sans dormir
  • faire une nuit sans sommeil
  • passer une nuit sans dormir
  • passer une nuit sans sommeil

 Cultural note: Nuit Blanche is a city-wide, night-time arts festival held in more than 100 cities every year, usually in the winter.

* Not a white knight. Tee hee!

 Related lessons

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J'ai fait une nuit blanche

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