the first appearance of daylight in the morning: Dawn broke over the valley.
the beginning or rise of anything; advent: the dawn of civilization.

verb (used without object)

to begin to grow light in the morning: The day dawned with a cloudless sky.
to begin to open or develop.
to begin to be perceived (usually followed by on): The idea dawned on him.

Origin of dawn

before 1150; Middle English dawen (v.), Old English dagian, derivative of dæg day; akin to Old Norse daga, Middle Dutch, Middle Low German dagen, Old High German tagēn
Related formsdawn·like, adjectiveun·dawned, adjective

Synonyms for dawn

Antonyms for dawn

1. sunset.




a female given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dawn

Contemporary Examples of dawn

Historical Examples of dawn

  • And yet, I am persuaded, a day will dawn when something will.

  • Light of some sort began to dawn on the perplexed faces of the gentlemen.

  • When Sidney saw the outline of the stable roof, she knew that it was dawn.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The dawn was just showing over the mountains, and in Sils the cocks were crowing.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • At the dawn of the morning he made his attack sharp, unexpected, decisive.

British Dictionary definitions for dawn



daybreak; sunriseRelated adjective: auroral
the sky when light first appears in the morning
the beginning of something

verb (intr)

to begin to grow light after the night
to begin to develop, appear, or expand
(usually foll by on or upon) to begin to become apparent (to)
Derived Formsdawnlike, adjective

Word Origin for dawn

Old English dagian to dawn; see day
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

Word Origin and History for dawn

c.1200, dauen, "to dawn, grow light," shortened or back-formed from dauinge, dauing "period between darkness and sunrise," (c.1200), from Old English dagung, from dagian "to become day," from root of dæg "day" (see day). Probably influenced by a Scandinavian word (cf. Danish dagning, Old Norse dagan "a dawning;" cf. also German tagen "to dawn"). Related: Dawned; dawning.


1590s, from dawn (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dawn


In addition to the idiom beginning with dawn

  • dawn on

also see:

  • crack of dawn
  • light dawned
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.