• synonyms


noun Roman Catholic Church.
  1. the office of matins, consisting of nine psalms and either three or nine lessons.
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Origin of nocturn

before 1150; Middle English nocturne < Medieval Latin nocturna, noun use of feminine of Latin nocturnus by night; replacing Old English noctern < Medieval Latin, as above
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nocturn

Historical Examples of nocturn

  • The elders did not observe the nocturn that night until prime on the morrow.

    The Latin &amp; Irish Lives of Ciaran


  • When all were assembled, fifteen psalms were sung; then came the nocturn and more psalms.

  • The contessa's reception began at the first nocturn, between sunset and midnight.

  • It was to be lighted again by one of the novices appointed for the purpose during the last psalm of each Nocturn.

  • At half-past three in the afternoon the first nocturn began, with the Psalms, Lessons, etc.

British Dictionary definitions for nocturn


  1. RC Church any of the main sections of the office of matins
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Word Origin for nocturn

C13: from Medieval Latin nocturna, from Latin nocturnus nocturnal, from nox night
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 nocturn


a division of the office of matins, early 13c., from Old French nocturne "evening service; curfew," from Medieval Latin nocturna, "group of Psalms used in the nocturns," from Latin nocturnus (see nocturnal).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper