Rip Van Winkle

[ rip van wing-kuh l ]
/ ˌrɪp væn ˈwɪŋ kəl /

noun

(in a story by Washington Irving) a ne'er-do-well who sleeps 20 years and upon waking is startled to find how much the world has changed.
(italics) the story itself, published in The Sketch Book (1819).
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for rip van winkle

Rip Van Winkle

/ (ˈrɪp væn ˈwɪŋkəl) /

noun informal

a person who is oblivious to changes, esp in social attitudes or thought
a person who sleeps a lot

Word Origin for Rip Van Winkle

C19: from a character who slept for 20 years, in a story (1819) by Washington Irving (1783–1859), US writer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Culture definitions for rip van winkle

“Rip Van Winkle”


(1819) A story by Washington Irving. The title character goes to sleep after a game of bowling and much drinking in the mountains with a band of dwarves. He awakens twenty years later, an old man. Back home, Rip finds that all has changed: his wife is dead, his daughter is married, and the American Revolutionary War has taken place.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.