A sleeper is something that succeeds when no one thought it would. That low-tech movie about shark attacks that you shot on vacation and edited in your basement? It could be a sleeper if you market it in the right way.

You probably know that sleeper can be used in an obvious sense to refer to someone who is asleep. But you also may hear the word used to describe something that becomes an unexpected success, like "a sleeper of a film" featuring unknown actors that ends up becoming the big summer hit. This sense of the word may have originated in the world of gambling in the nineteenth century. When a card player unexpectedly drew a winning card, the card was called "a sleeper."

Definitions of sleeper

n a rester who is sleeping

show 6 types...
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someone who is dreaming
Rip van Winkle
a person who sleeps a lot
sleeping beauty
a person who is sleeping soundly
noctambulist, sleepwalker, somnambulist
someone who walks about in their sleep
someone who snores while sleeping
someone who talks while asleep
Type of:
a person who rests

n a passenger car that has berths for sleeping

sleeping car, wagon-lit
Type of:
carriage, coach, passenger car
a railcar where passengers ride

n a piece of furniture that can be opened up into a bed

Type of:
article of furniture, furniture, piece of furniture
furnishings that make a room or other area ready for occupancy

n pajamas with feet; worn by children

Type of:
jammies, pajama, pj's, pyjama
(usually plural) loose-fitting nightclothes worn for sleeping or lounging; have a jacket top and trousers

n an unexpected achiever of success

“the winner was a true sleeper--no one expected him to get it”
Type of:
achiever, succeeder, success, winner
a person with a record of successes

n an unexpected hit

“that movie was the sleeper of the summer”
Type of:
bang, hit, smash, smasher, strike
a conspicuous success

n a spy or saboteur or terrorist planted in an enemy country who lives there as a law-abiding citizen until activated by a prearranged signal

Type of:
diversionist, saboteur, wrecker
someone who commits sabotage or deliberately causes wrecks
spy, undercover agent
(military) a secret agent hired by a state to obtain information about its enemies or by a business to obtain industrial secrets from competitors
a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities

n one of the cross braces that support the rails on a railway track

crosstie, railroad tie, tie
Type of:
brace, bracing
a structural member used to stiffen a framework

n tropical fish that resembles a goby and rests quietly on the bottom in shallow water

sleeper goby
Type of:
percoid, percoid fish, percoidean
any of numerous spiny-finned fishes of the order Perciformes

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