noun Music.

a piece appropriate to the night or evening.
an instrumental composition of a dreamy or pensive character.

Origin of nocturne

From the French word nocturne, dating back to 1860–65. See nocturn Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for nocturne

song, divertimento

Examples from the Web for nocturne

Historical Examples of nocturne

  • A nocturne—yes; it was getting dark, and the sea was rising—that was the sound of the sea.

    Olive in Italy

    Moray Dalton

  • This nocturne is called a forerunner to the Chopin nocturnes.

    Old Fogy

    James Huneker

  • She pulled a volume of Chopin from the stand, and began the twelfth nocturne.

  • Schubert's 'Hedge Roses' for one, and that nocturne of your own for the other.

  • In fact it is so popular that when any one is asked to play "Chopin's Nocturne," this one is meant.

    The Pianolist

    Gustav Kobb

British Dictionary definitions for nocturne



a short, lyrical piece of music, esp one for the piano
a painting or tone poem of a night scene
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 nocturne

1862, "composition of a dreamy character," from French nocturne, literally "composition appropriate to the night," noun use of Old French nocturne "nocturnal," from Latin nocturnus (see nocturnal). Said to have been coined c.1814 by John Field, who wrote many of them, in a style that Chopin mastered in his own works, which popularized the term.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper