\ 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

As the 2018 season dawned, a limited film library of Tua Tagovailoa existed for opponents to come. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Inside intel on Tua Tagovailoa from opponents speaking candidly about Alabama QB," 21 Aug. 2019 The urgency of climate change is finally dawning on the public. Dave Levitan, The New Republic, "Would Trump’s Reelection Doom the Planet?," 26 July 2019 There is a symbolic sense that a new day is dawning in the old town. Mike Giuliano, baltimoresun.com, "Ellicott City looks good from any angle at ‘Paint It!’ show," 19 July 2019 And for newcomers, another realization is dawning: Nothing stays new for long. New York Times, "Moving This Summer? Consider a Hard Hat," 21 June 2019 But in the era of space travel now dawning, far more of us are destined to join them. CBS News, ""Corporate astronaut": How billionaires are joining the space race," 20 July 2019 Game day for FC Cincinnati versus Orlando City dawned warm and sunny outside the city'sMajor League Soccer stadium in Parramore, a small, predominantly black neighborhood within walking distance of downtown Orlando. Sharon Coolidge, Cincinnati.com, "Orlando offers glimpse at FC Cincinnati soccer stadium future and the impact on a community," 31 May 2019 Since the genre’s dawning , nearly five decades ago, homophobic attitudes in hip-hop have been the norm. N.W.A and the Beastie Boys boasted about their disdain for gay people in lyrics. Los Angeles Times, "Lil Nas X came out, but has hip-hop? A macho culture faces a crossroads," 31 July 2019 That realization has dawned on Ajinomoto Co. of Tokyo, founded more than a century ago to make the seasoning monosodium glutamate, or MSG. River Davis, WSJ, "Rescuing MSG’s Unsavory Reputation," 27 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Since the dawn of the space era more than six decades ago, there’s been just one way to get to the moon and back: rockets. Jeremy Hsu, NBC News, "A space elevator to the moon could be doable — and surprisingly cheap," 13 Sep. 2019 Confidence: Medium Sunday night: Partly cloudy, and fairly calm, with mid- to upper 60s for low temperatures near dawn. Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: A hint of fall with breezes and clouds today, but don’t get used to it," 13 Sep. 2019 Out on the dock, the full beauty of an island dawn made my decision a sound one. Leon Russell, BostonGlobe.com, "Falling for a Maine island - The Boston Globe," 13 Sep. 2019 As dawn breaks, a long-haul trucker may be munching sunflower seeds and sipping cold tea to stay awake, while a driving partner dozes on a bunk bed. The Economist, "China’s long-distance lorry drivers are unsung heroes of its economy," 12 Sep. 2019 To write Tools and Weapons, Smith holed up before dawn in a windowless meeting room, running through Browne’s edits while his colleagues trickled onto campus. Romesh Ratnesar/redmond, Time, "How Microsoft's Brad Smith is Trying to Restore Your Trust in Big Tech," 8 Sep. 2019 Nearly two years after the epic fall of Harvey Weinstein and the dawn of Hollywood’s #MeToo era, the first wave of films reflecting that new sensibility is hitting the screen. Lexy Perez, The Hollywood Reporter, "Toronto: Download THR's Day 2 Daily," 7 Sep. 2019 But since the dawn of social media, fashion weeks have been doing double duty as direct-to-consumer venues. Kate Dwyer, Fortune, "How to Watch New York Fashion Week From Your Phone," 6 Sep. 2019 Before dawn Thursday, winds had downed numerous trees and power lines, and by breakfast time the South Carolina Emergency Management Division reported that more than 199,000 customers were without power. Richard Fausset, New York Times, "Hurricane Dorian Becomes a Carolina Problem With a Fierce Lashing of the Coast," 5 Sep. 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

2 Sep 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

Comments on dawn

What made you want to look up dawn? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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