Definition of dawn in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɔːn/


1The first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise: he set off at dawn
More example sentences
  • She pushed the horse faster, but didn't sit up until the first light of dawn rose over the horizon.
  • All observations of mating behavior commenced at the beginning of this dawn period.
  • She wakes up in those dawns and rises with the sun.
daybreak, break of day, crack of dawn, sunrise, first light, daylight, first thing in the morning, early morning, cockcrow;
North American  sunup
literary dawning, peep of day, aurora, dayspring
1.1The beginning of a phenomenon or period of time, especially one perceived as auspicious: the dawn of civilization
More example sentences
  • Driving through a land which has been intensively farmed since the dawn of civilisation, we soon reached the Ghab, a rich agricultural valley which had once been marshland.
  • Humans require new dawns, fresh starts, ends of eras.
  • If we are correct, the Late Devonian wood problem was an almost inevitable result of evolutionary developments at the dawn of life.
beginning, start, birth, inception, conception, origination, genesis, emergence, advent, coming, appearance, debut, arrival, dawning, rise, starting point, origin, launch, institution, inauguration, opening, initiation, onset, outset, unfolding, development, infancy;
day one
informal kick-off, the word go
formal commencement


[no object]
1(Of a day) begin: [with complement]: Thursday dawned bright and sunny
More example sentences
  • On a day such as this, one might have hoped that the day would dawn bright and early, bringing sunshine and crisp, cold, blue skies.
  • I kept the doors and windows closed even after day had dawned.
  • The next day dawned late, and we set out across an inland sea - the giant frozen lake Kuttijarvi - so large we couldn't see other side.
begin, open, break, arrive, emerge, grow light, lighten, brighten
1.1Come into existence: a new age was dawning in the Tory party
More example sentences
  • To be sure the threat to the Pattern has existed for the past couple of years, but I never thought the day would dawn when the outgoing committee was left with no alternative but to call it a day.
  • A new age was dawning, and I was riding the crest of it.
  • A new age has dawned, and the Holy Spirit has been poured out in a new way.
begin, start, come into being, be born, come into existence, appear, arrive, come forth, emerge, erupt, burst out;
arise, rise, originate, break, unfold, develop, crop up, first see the light of day
formal commence
2Become evident to the mind; be perceived or understood: the awful truth was beginning to dawn on him (as adjective dawning) he smiled with dawning recognition
More example sentences
  • Realization seemed to dawn on Kaya's face after that sentence.
  • It didn't dawn on us what the reader was really asking.
  • Much of this has yet to dawn on Labour's backbenches and few would understand it even if spelled out for them.
occur to, come to, come to mind, spring to mind, enter someone's mind/head, come into someone's head/mind, strike, hit, register with, enter someone's consciousness, flash across someone's mind, pass through someone's mind, cross someone's mind, suggest itself


Late 15th century (as a verb): back-formation from Middle English dawning.

  • day from Old English:

    The ancient word day has a Germanic root which may have meant ‘to burn’, through association with the heat of summer. The working day came with increasing industrialization, in the early 19th century. This is the day you refer to if you call it a day, ‘decide to stop doing something’. In the mid 19th century, when working people had fewer holidays, the expression was to call it half a day. If something unusual is all in a day's work, it is taken in your stride, as part of your normal routine. Jonathan Swift's Polite Conversations, which mocked the clichés of 18th-century society, suggest that the phrase was in circulation even then. Daylight dawned in the early Middle Ages (LME dawn itself is closely related to ‘day’). It was always associated with seeing, and in the mid 18th century daylights appeared as a term for the eyes. This is not the meaning in to beat the living daylights out of someone, where ‘daylights’ are the vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, and liver ( see light). The word ‘living’ is a later addition to the phrase, from the late 19th century. Days of wine and roses are times of pleasure, which will inevitably pass. The phrase comes from a line in a poem by the 19th-century poet Ernest Dowson: ‘They are not long, the days of wine and roses’.

Words that rhyme with dawn

adorn, born, borne, bourn, Braun, brawn, corn, drawn, faun, fawn, forborne, forewarn, forlorn, freeborn, lawn, lorn, morn, mourn, newborn, Norn, outworn, pawn, prawn, Quorn, sawn, scorn, Sean, shorn, spawn, suborn, sworn, thorn, thrawn, torn, Vaughan, warn, withdrawn, worn, yawn

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