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

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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 In the desert, many animals are nocturnal, so tracks are one of the best ways to know which critters are out there. The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Oct. 2021 The adults are nocturnal and rest during the day around the base of the plants (in the soil or thatch). oregonlive, 27 Aug. 2021 Adult crappies tend to be nocturnal and will actively feed on dark, overcast days even after a night of foraging. Jim Gronaw,, 10 Aug. 2021 Owls are typically nocturnal — but even during the day, many were able to capture Barry splashing in the water and appearing to pose for photos. Li Cohen, CBS News, 6 Aug. 2021 Vinegaroons are nocturnal but are not able to see well, according to the park. Gabriela Miranda, USA TODAY, 22 July 2021 Copperheads are also believed to be nocturnal during the summer, especially on humid, warm nights after rain, per LiveScience. Vanessa Etienne,, 12 Aug. 2021 Staff and volunteers follow radar reports on, a website that shows incoming nocturnal bird migrations. Jeffery Jones, National Geographic, 8 Oct. 2020 Vinegaroons are nocturnal, have poor eyesight and are most commonly found in the desert. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, 21 July 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

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nocturnal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 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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