noc·​tur·​nal | \ näk-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce nocturnal (audio) \

Definition of nocturnal

1 : of, relating to, or occurring in the night a nocturnal journey nocturnal activities
2 : active at night a nocturnal predator nocturnal insects, such as mosquitoes

Other Words from nocturnal

nocturnally \ näk-​ˈtər-​nᵊl-​ē How to pronounce nocturnal (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for nocturnal



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Examples of nocturnal in a Sentence

he bought a new telescope so he could pursue his favorite nocturnal hobby of astronomy
Recent Examples on the Web Highlights All around the world, the pandemic provoked strange nocturnal visions. New York Times, 7 Nov. 2021 This year, the flightless nocturnal parrot placed second with 4,072 votes, CNN reports. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Nov. 2021 The nocturnal birds once plentiful in Austria have been considered extinct in the European country since the mid-20th century, according to Zenger News. Kelli Bender,, 25 Oct. 2021 Chief among these nocturnal artists, for Mumford, was the painter Albert Pinkham Ryder, who was given to long, solitary nighttime walks in Lower Manhattan. Christopher Benfey, The New York Review of Books, 7 Oct. 2021 For The Masked Singer season 6, a nocturnal creature is stepping into the spotlight for their big moment. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, 22 Sep. 2021 Narwhal shrimp are normally nocturnal and often burrow in mud or sand or hide among rocks or in caves in the day. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 12 Sep. 2021 Us by Night, which has flipped the format of a classic design conference and turned it into an annual, nocturnal festival. Fiona Kerr, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Sep. 2021 To escape the daytime heat, the city has also turned nocturnal. Jake Coyle, Detroit Free Press, 20 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nocturnal.' 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 nocturnal

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nocturnal

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French nocturnel, borrowed from Late Latin nocturnālis "for night use," from Latin nocturnus "of or occurring at night" (from noct-, nox night entry 1 + -urnus, temporal suffix, as in diurnus "of the day") + -ālis -al entry 1 — more at journal

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

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Last Updated

8 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nocturnal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for nocturnal



English Language Learners Definition of nocturnal

: active mainly during the night
: happening at night


noc·​tur·​nal | \ näk-ˈtər-nᵊl How to pronounce nocturnal (audio) \

Kids Definition of nocturnal

1 : happening at night a nocturnal journey
2 : active at night nocturnal insects


noc·​tur·​nal | \ näk-ˈtərn-ᵊl How to pronounce nocturnal (audio) \

Medical Definition of nocturnal

1 : of, relating to, or occurring at night nocturnal myoclonus
2 : characterized by nocturnal activity a nocturnal form of filariasis

More from Merriam-Webster on nocturnal

Nglish: Translation of nocturnal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nocturnal for Arabic Speakers


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