\ ˈdȯn How to pronounce dawn (audio) , ˈdän\
dawned; dawning; dawns

Definition of dawn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to begin to grow light as the sun rises waited for the day to dawn
2 : to begin to appear or develop a new era is dawning
3 : to begin to be perceived or understood the truth finally dawned on us



Definition of dawn (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the first appearance of light in the morning followed by sunrise danced till dawn at the crack of dawn Almost before the first faint sign of dawn appeared she arose again …— Thomas Hardy
2 : beginning the dawn of the space age

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Synonyms & Antonyms for dawn

Synonyms: Verb

actualize, appear, arise, begin, break, commence, engender, form, materialize, originate, set in, spring, start

Synonyms: Noun

aurora, cockcrow, dawning, day, daybreak, daylight, light, morn, morning, sun, sunrise, sunup

Antonyms: Verb

cease, end, stop

Antonyms: Noun

nightfall, sundown, sunset

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Examples of dawn in a Sentence


They waited for the day to dawn. A new age is dawning.


as dawn breaks over the city Winter brings late dawns and early sunsets.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Next debates: July 30 and 31 in Detroit on CNN A sense of urgency is dawning for Castro and others whose candidacies may be imperiled by tightened qualifications for fall debates. Bill Lambrecht, ExpressNews.com, "Texan Julián Castro needs a spark tonight in first Democratic debate," 26 June 2019 Bonnie saw in him both the light and the dawning dark. Tribune News Service, oregonlive.com, "The Man in the Window: Is this the childhood of a serial killer? (Part One)," 22 June 2019 Mother’s Day dawned bright and sunny in Manhattan, and Donna Hanover had plans. Anne-marie O'neill, PEOPLE.com, "From the Archives: How Rudy Giuliani and Judith Nathan Started Their Marriage by Ending Another," 4 Apr. 2018 After the first greedy devouring of raw narration, there dawns a sense of the music within the words, the many voices that intrigue, or frighten, or amuse. John E. Mcintyre, baltimoresun.com, "If you are an editor, the world is in need of you," 18 May 2018 Quite without warning, a new era is dawning in Philadelphia. Bill Lyon, Philly.com, "It's a new (winning) era in Philly sports | Bill Lyon," 14 Apr. 2018 As the 90s dawned things were looking up for women. Allison Yarrow, Time, "How the ’90s Tricked Women Into Thinking They’d Gained Gender Equality," 13 June 2018 Another factor is a dawning awareness that social media may not be particularly good for our mental health or our democracy, leading to a wave of users scaling back and even opting out entirely. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "The Hot New Channel for Reaching Real People: Email," 19 Jan. 2019 Whether the nightmare is Orwell’s Big Brother, Huxley’s human hatcheries or the myriad variations on nuclear annihilation and worldwide contagion, a dreaded new reality has dawned. Anna Mundow, WSJ, "‘The Wall’ Review: We Shall Defend Our Island," 1 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Confidence: Medium Your daily forecast and important weather updates, every day at the break of dawn. Rick Grow, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Scattered showers and storms remain with us through the weekend," 5 July 2019 From waking up way before dawn to sitting undisturbed for hours in one position, Vipassana is not a relaxing getaway. Nupur Anand, Quartz India, "Ten days of utter silence pulled me back from the brink of a mental breakdown," 2 July 2019 On Friday, the grandmother of six described coming in to work on a daily basis, supervising a staff of three full-time cooks and two part-timers and sometimes having to arrive at the crack of dawn to fill large catering orders. Sara Cardine, latimes.com, "Taco Deli to close Saturday after 22 years of serving up freshness to La Cañada patrons," 28 June 2019 The moon scoots below and to the right of M-44 the Pleiades star cluster on Saturday before dawn. Arnold Pearlstein, sun-sentinel.com, "The Stars This Week: June 23-29," 23 June 2019 Before dawn Thursday, a group of five close aides to Moreno gathered at a Quito home to await word. Joshua Goodman, The Seattle Times, "After 7 long years, Assange’s capture happened quickly," 16 Apr. 2019 The conference informally begins at the crack of dawn Monday, when a few of us cycle 25 miles up and down a mountain, and ends before lunch on Wednesday. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Celebrating Apple's Lucrative Switcheroo," 11 July 2018 Sky’s daily routine usually begins in the ocean at dawn, near the family’s home in Japan. Jack Harris, latimes.com, "Young, small, but mighty: Skateboarder Sky Brown shreds path toward Olympics," 15 June 2019 Those who wanted to be among the first arrived before dawn, hours before the park’s opening. Julia Webster, Time, "Harry Potter Fans Wait up to 10 Hours to Ride Universal Orlando’s Newest Roller Coaster," 14 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dawn.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dawn


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dawn

Verb and Noun

Middle English, probably back-formation from dawning daybreak, alteration of dawing, from Old English dagung, from dagian — see daw entry 1

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Learn More about dawn

Dictionary Entries near dawn


Dawes' limit



dawn blue

dawn gray

dawn horse

Statistics for dawn

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dawn

The first known use of dawn was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for dawn



English Language Learners Definition of dawn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to begin to become light as the sun rises
: to start or begin
: to begin to be understood



English Language Learners Definition of dawn (Entry 2 of 2)

: the time of day when sunlight first begins to appear
: the beginning of something


\ ˈdȯn How to pronounce dawn (audio) \
dawned; dawning

Kids Definition of dawn

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to begin to grow light as the sun rises Morning dawned bright and clear.
2 : to start becoming plain or clear It dawned on us that we were lost.



Kids Definition of dawn (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the time when the sun comes up in the morning
2 : a first appearance : beginning Early rockets marked the dawn of the space age.

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More from Merriam-Webster on dawn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dawn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dawn

Spanish Central: Translation of dawn

Nglish: Translation of dawn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dawn for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dawn

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