1. the period of darkness between sunset and sunrise.
  2. the beginning of this period; nightfall.
  3. the darkness of night; the dark.
  4. a condition or time of obscurity, ignorance, sinfulness, misfortune, etc.: the long night of European history known as the Dark Ages.
  5. (sometimes initial capital letter) an evening used or set aside for a particular event, celebration, or other special purpose: a night on the town; poker night; New Year’s Night.


  1. of or relating to night: the night hours.
  2. occurring, appearing, or seen at night: a night raid; a night bloomer.
  3. used or designed to be used at night: to take a night coach; the night entrance.
  4. working at night: night nurse; the night shift.
  5. active at night: the night feeders of the jungle.
  1. night and day,
    1. unceasingly; continually: She worked night and day until the job was done.
    2. a complete difference; completely different: The improvement in her grades after tutoring was like night and day.

    Also day and night.


  1. the period of darkness each 24 hours between sunset and sunrise, as distinct from day
  2. (modifier) of, occurring, working, etc, at nighta night nurse
  3. the occurrence of this period considered as a unitfour nights later they left
  4. the period between sunset and retiring to bed; evening
  5. the time between bedtime and morningshe spent the night alone
  6. the weather conditions of the nighta clear night
  7. the activity or experience of a person during a night
  8. (sometimes capital) any evening designated for a special observance or function
  9. nightfall or dusk
  10. a state or period of gloom, ignorance, etc
  11. make a night of it to go out and celebrate for most of the night
  12. night and day continuallythat baby cries night and day

Old English niht (West Saxon neaht, Anglian næht, neht) “night, darkness;” the vowel indicating that the modern word derives from oblique cases (genitive nihte, dative niht), from Proto-Germanic *nakht- (cf. Old Saxon and Old High German naht, Old Frisian and Dutch nacht, German Nacht, Old Norse natt, Gothic nahts).

The Germanic words are from PIE *nekwt- “night” (cf. Greek nuks “a night,” Latin nox, Old Irish nochd, Sanskrit naktam “at night,” Lithuanian naktis “night,” Old Church Slavonic nosti, Russian noch’, Welsh henoid “tonight”), according to Watkins, probably from a verbal root *neg- “to be dark, be night.” For spelling with -gh- see fight.

The fact that the Aryans have a common name for night, but not for day (q.v.), is due to the fact that they reckoned by nights. [Weekley]

Cf. German Weihnachten “Christmas.” In early times, the day was held to begin at sunset, so Old English monanniht “Monday night” was the night before Monday, or what we would call Sunday night.

To work nights preserves the Old English genitive of time. Night shift is attested from 1710 in the sense of “garment worn by a woman at night” (see shift (n.1)); meaning “gang of workers employed after dark” is from 1839. Night soil “excrement” (1770) is so called because it was removed (from cesspools, etc.) after dark. Night train attested from 1838. Night life “habitual nocturnal carousing” attested from 1852.

Also day and night. Continually, without stopping. This phrase is used either literally, as in The alarm is on night and day, or hyperbolically, as in We were working day and night on these drawings. Shakespeare put it by night and day in The Comedy of Errors (4:2): “Time comes stealing on by night and day.”

In addition to the idioms beginning with night

  • night and day
  • night owl

also see:

  • black as night
  • call it a day (night)
  • dead of (night)
  • different as night and day
  • good night
  • make a day (night) of it
  • ships that pass in the night

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

49 queries 2.887