The Meaning of Dawn: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of dawn? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word dawn, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word dawn mean?

According to American Heritage, Collins English Dictionary, and the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word dawn can be used as a noun or a verb. As a noun, this word can refer to the first light of day or first appearance of daylight, but can also be used figuratively to reference the first appearance of light of an idea or thing, such as the dawn of a new age, dawn of a new kind of relationship, or the dawn of life. This refers to the earliest period or something.

Scientifically, dawn occurs when the sun rises over the horizon. This morning twilight period during the break of the day happens when direct sunlight outshines the diffused light. This is the opposite of the beginning of twilight, and occurs after the duration of the trilight period has ended. The center of the Sun’s disc is at an 18° angle below the observer’s horizon during dawn, according to Definitions. Dawn happens at different times depending on the observer’s latitude, which references how close they are to the poles and polar regions. Civil dawn is different from astronomical dawn, which is related to planets Jupiter and Venus, light pollution, and fainter stars. This is the same for the beginning of astronomical twilight. The meaning of the name Dawn is daybreak, and could reference the Goddess Aurora. Dawn is important in many religions like Islam and Judaism who refernce the Qur’an and Talmud regarding different times of prayer that may occur at dawn.

Many different languages also contain words that mean dawn. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates. Cognates are formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations of dawn is provided by Word Sense.

  • Welsh: gwawr‎ (fem.)
  •  Armenian: արշալույս‎
  •  Gallurese: albore‎
  •  Cyrillic: праскозорје‎ (neut.), зора‎ (fem.)
  •  Japanese: 夜明け‎ (よあけ, yoake)
  •  Romanian: zori‎, auroră‎ (fem.), alba‎ (fem.)
  •  Catalan: aurora‎ (fem.)
  •  Maori: pūaotanga‎, hāpara‎, ata hāpara‎, haeata‎
  •  Korean: 새벽‎
  •  Latin: aurora‎ (fem.)
  •  Macedonian: мугра‎ (fem.), зора‎ (fem.)
  •  Hebrew: שחר‎
  •  Vietnamese: bình minh‎, rạng đông‎, buổi sớm tinh mơ‎
  •  Sassarese: billòcca‎, chintari‎
  •  Dutch: dageraad‎ (masc.), zonsopgang‎ (masc.)
  •  Arabic: فَجْر‎ (masc.)
  •  Polish: świt‎ (masc.), brzask‎ (masc.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: beul an latha‎ (masc.), briseadh-latha‎ (masc.), mochthrath‎ (fem.)
  •  Neapolitan: arba‎ (fem.)
  •  Volapük: gödalulit‎
  •  Mandarin: 黎明‎ (límíng), 拂曉‎, 拂晓‎ (fúxiǎo), 破曉‎, 破晓‎ (pòxiǎo), 旦‎ (dan4)
  •  Friulian: albe‎ (fem.)
  •  Hindi: उषा‎
  •  Danish: daggry‎ (neut.)
  •  Chuvash: шурампуç‎
  •  Ukrainian: зоря́‎ (fem.), світа́нок‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: alvorecer‎, alvorada‎, amanhecer‎, aurora‎
  •  Romansch: alva‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Morgendämmerung‎ (fem.), Dämmerung‎ (fem.), Morgengrauen‎ (neut.)
  •  Finnish: aamunkoitto‎, aamuhämärä‎
  •  Bulgarian: зора‎ (fem.), разсъмване‎ (neut.)
  •  Khmer: ព្រលឹម‎ (prɔlɨm)
  •  Spanish: alba‎ (fem.), amanecer‎ (masc.), aurora‎ (fem.), madrugada‎ (fem.)
  •  Kazakh: арай‎
  •  Aromanian: hãryii‎ (fem.), cripatã‎ (fem.), apiritã‎ (fem.), ndzari‎, adoarã‎
  •  Roman: prȁskozōrje‎ (neut.), zòra‎ (fem.)
  •  Icelandic: dögun‎ (fem.), dagrenning‎ (fem.), morgunsár‎ (neut.), afturelding‎ (fem.)
  •  Georgian: გარიჟრაჟი‎, რიჟრაჟი‎
  •  Navajo: hayííłką́‎, hayoołkááł‎
  •  Greek: αυγή‎ (fem.)
  •  Italian: alba‎ (fem.)
  •  Ancient Greek: ὄρθρος‎ (masc.)
  •  Logudorese: arbéschida‎, arbòre‎
  •  Sicilian: alba‎ (fem.), arba‎ (fem.), abba‎ (fem.)
  •  French: aube‎ (fem.)
  •  Campidanese: nèa‎
  •  Swedish: gryning‎
  •  Russian: заря́‎ (fem.), рассве́т‎ (masc.)
  •  Bashkir: таң‎
  •  Ido: jornesko‎
  •  Istriot: alba‎ (fem.)

What are synonyms and antonyms of dawn?

There are numerous different words that a person can use in the place of the word dawn. These are known as synonyms, which are words and phrases with the same definition as another word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your vocabulary and improve your knowledge of the English language. This list of synonyms of dawn is provided by Thesaurus.

  •  cockcrow
  •  break of day
  •  bright
  •  light
  •  morn
  •  sunup
  •  morning
  •  crack of dawn
  •  daylight
  •  wee hours
  •  early bright
  •  daybreak
  •  sunrise
  •  first light
  •  day peep
  •  first blush
  •  dawning
  •  aurora

There are also several different words and phrases that have the opposite meaning as the word dawn. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another quick and simple way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms of dawn is also from Thesaurus.

  •  gloaming
  •  nightfall
  •  night
  •  sundown
  •  gloom
  •  sunset
  •  dimday
  •  dusk
  •  eventide
  •  twilight
  •  dark
  •  dimmet

What is the origin of the word dawn?

According to Etymonline, using the word dawn as a verb has been in practice since circa 1200, and dawn has been used as a noun since the late c16. These come from the Middle English daunen, which was shortened or a back-formation from the Middle English dauinge or dauing. These come from the Old English dagung and Old English dagian, from the Proto-Germanic dagaz meaning day. This is also the source of the German tagen. These come from Proto-Indo-European roots – likely agh, meaning “a day” – and were influenced by Scandinavian cognates like the Danish dagning and Old Norse dagan or dawen. Before dawn was used as a noun, people used day-gleam in late c14, dayspring in 1300, and dawning. One can add the suffixes ed and ing to form different tenses of dawn, dawned and dawning.

How can the word dawn be used in a sentence?

The word dawn can be used in many ways in both UK and US English. Below are a couple of examples of dawn.

The scientific paper shows the ideas that dawned on the scientists, and the narrow view that we have taken in the past about the potential of chemicals to wreak havoc on the world.

It was the dawn of a new era of the age of computers – the mobile voice assistant. Companies all over the world were adding this feature to personal technology.

Overall, the word dawn means the opening time period of the day or the morning of the world as it relates to the centre of the sun’s rays and the appearance of indirect sunlight in the Earth’s atmosphere after the duration of the twilight period. This can also be used to reference a figurative start to a thing, concept or idea, such as the new dawn of civilisation.


  1. dawn: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. DAWN Synonyms: 87 Synonyms & Antonyms for DAWN | Thesaurus 
  3. DUSK Synonyms: 17 Synonyms & Antonyms for DUSK | Thesaurus 
  4. dawn | Origin and meaning of dawn | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. What does dawn mean? | Definitions 
  6. Dawn | Definition of Dawn | Merriam-Webster