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."
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