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

verb (used without object)

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


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

verb (intr)

  1. to begin to grow light after the night
  2. to begin to develop, appear, or expand
  3. (usually foll by on or upon) to begin to become apparent (to)

1590s, from dawn (v.).


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.

In addition to the idiom beginning with dawn

  • dawn on

also see:

  • crack of dawn
  • light dawned
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