Expressions used in Everyday Spoken English in Social and Professional contexts

asleep at the wheel

asleep at the wheel
Meaning(s)
1) inattentive or negligent
  • How to MemorizePopularity HighProfessional LowSocial
    • the people running that business are asleep at the wheel
  • Analysis
     This expression alludes to the potentially catastrophic consequences likely to occur if a person was to fall asleep while driving a vehicle. To be 'asleep at the wheel' in a figurative sense means to fail to attend to one's responsibilities, fail to perform a duty, or to miss an opportunity, resulting in something bad happening. It is usually due to inattentiveness or irresponsible behaviour, and can potentially be a sackable offence. The nature of this expression means that it is most commonly used in a professional environment. A similar expression is 'caught napping.'
  • Professional Examples (Basic)
    1. My secretary was supposed to have made a note of that appointment in my diary, but she must have been asleep at the wheel.
    2. Jack was asleep at the wheel, thinking that he had the deal all sewn up. His nonchalance ended up proving costly for all of us.
    3. The people running that business are asleep at the wheel. The whole place is going down the pan!
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