- Archaic. an astrolabe for telling time at night or for determining latitude by the position of certain stars in reference to Polaris.
Origin of nocturnal
SynonymsSee more synonyms for nocturnal on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for nocturnal
As the sun was setting, we made our way back, along a highway furrowed by hippos during their nocturnal forages.Walking With Wildebeests: Exploring the Serengeti on Foot
July 9, 2013
Coffeehouses stayed open late, while in the countryside, “spinning bees”—nocturnal gatherings of women—were enduringly popular.The Best of Brit Lit
October 12, 2011
Dennis was recovering from a downturn in his life—wild drugs, hospital, and a nocturnal escape organized by Jack Nicholson.Remembering My Friend Dennis
May 29, 2010
With our long immigration stalemate, it is currently, and perhaps eternally, a nocturnal river.My Night on the Border
May 25, 2010
I will admit, however, they made for some spectacular views of nocturnal Baghdad in its orange bath of streetlights.Commuting to Iraq
March 21, 2009
Wretched about one son, he was dismayed at the nocturnal visit of the other.Weighed and Wanting
It was nocturnal in its habits, and somewhat addicted to dancing and the theft of children.The Devil's Dictionary
Do not they sometimes favour the world with these nocturnal shriekings?Vivian Grey
Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
Have you come to pay us a nocturnal visit, or—there's nothing the matter?A Spirit in Prison
But Vose was not yet through with his nocturnal experiences.A Waif of the Mountains
Edward S. Ellis
- of, used during, occurring in, or relating to the night
- (of animals) active at night
- (of plants) having flowers that open at night and close by day
Word Origin and History for nocturnal
late 15c., from Old French nocturnal "nightly, nocturnal," or directly from Late Latin nocturnalis, from Latin nocturnus "belonging to the night," from nox (genitive noctis) "night," cognate with Old English neaht (see night) + -urnus, suffix forming adjectives of time. Nocturnal emission "involuntary ejaculation during sleep" first recorded 1813.
- Of, relating to, or occurring in the night.
- Most active at night.
- Occurring at night.
- Most active at night. Many animals, such as owls and bats, are nocturnal.
- Having flowers that open during the night and close at daylight. Nocturnal plants are often pollinated by moths. Compare diurnal.