O, My Darling

No, not “Clementine”, but as in “In the Glomming,

(Oh, My Darling”).

My question is:

Why does there not seem to be a word or words particular to the light before dawn, as there are for pre-sunset time?

Before sunset, we speakers of English have “twilight”, people also use “dusk” and we have “gloaming”, to describe the gradual darkening of the sky just after sunset,but there is no word to delineate the lightening of the sky around sunrise, or at least one that is regularly used.

Why is that?

I have searched, but there is not one word specifically used for it. It makes no sense, other than in most parts of the world, the darkening of the sky in the evening is for the most part, more gradual than the lightening of the sky in the morning,

but it should have its own word.

I have had this on my mind for some time, but this morning, the lightening sky cast such an odd color before the Sun actually rose that it struck me harder, and I decided to take it to this post.

Onecan actuallyuse “twilight” or even “gloaming” to describe this, but you have to modify it, as in “morning twilight”, “twilight of the morning”, “predawn gloaming”, etc.

Let’s be honest, if someone says “twilight”, it is understood that they mean that it is evening; no one would ask, “Early or late twilight?”

Consider; do you think Stephenie Meyer chose “Twilight” as her book title because people would be thinking “dawn” or “daybreak”?

What about “Twilight of the Gods”? That is not meant to invoke thoughts of a beginning, but an end.

I am looking for a stand-alone word that would be immediately understood.

I went in seach of a word in other languages, with limited time.

A Spanish-speaking friend offered “Crepúsculo o antes del alba o amanecer”, which literally means “Twilight or before dawn or sunrise”.

(See what I mean? Adjectives; descriptions. Twilight and gloaming, when referring to one in the morning, they need an adjective.)

The Spanish version had the same root as the word my studious granddaughter came up with: “crepuscule”, when she was here the other night. “Safari” search engine told her that was the word touse for light before dawn, but not really. When my husband looked the word up in one of our huge book dictionaries, (yes, we have a lot of different ones), it said that  “crepuscule” could be used for the light of either just before sunrise or just before sunset, but it was mainly used  as for “twilight in the evening”.

“Predawn” doesn’t cover the early morning light, as that could be the darkest hour, too. “Dawn” itself doesn’t do it, because that includes the actual sunrise.

 I was argued with but ,“It’s always darkest before the dawn” is meant to give hope that things will be bright soon after they seem to be at their worse, not “It’s always darkest before it’s somewhat lighter”.


 My mother, who insisted that ‘real Italian’, (from the North), had a word for every possible circumstance, that one could go from the palest white-pink to the deepest red, and there was a word for every shade. My friend in Italy tells me that they do, indeed, use a word for morning light and that is “aurora”, to mean that flares are visible but not the sun, which then will they use the word “alba”, (light/white).

Look up “aurora” in English and you will find that it can mean any part of “dawn”, not just the pre-sunrise lightening of the sky,

and who knows that word, anyway? Would you know what I meant if I said, “The aurora made everything look pink?” (As I write this on Monday, it literally did. This morning the entire sky and everything around had a strange, rosy blush, almost as if the air itself had a soft, pink tinge.) 

You’d probably say, “How in Heaven did you see an aurora in Kentucky???”,
because you would have assumed it had been at night. Actually, a French-speaking friend offered “aurora” before my Italian friend, but we both agreed that using it in English would make people think of “Borealis”, (or “Australis”. Did you know that word for “Southern Lights”? Many people don’t. Many people don’t know that there even are such things.)

You would have known what I meant if I said, “The twilight, (dusk, or gloaming), made everything look purple”, if I had been referring to an evening’s phenomenon.

So, why don’t we have a word that clearly imparts the lightening of the sky, “the dawn’s early light”? (Bet you sang that in your head!)

Do you have any thoughts on this?

Do you think that there isn’t a generally used word for this because more people are awake in the evening rather than in the early morning?

Do you think that evening twilight usually lasts longer than in the morning?

Have I piqued your interest?

Does any specific word dawn on you to use?


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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8 Responses to O, My Darling

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I can’t say that I’ve ever given this a thought. But then, I’ve never written a scene that took place at this time of day. I guess we’re doomed to using more than one word.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I never thought about this before. I have a line in one of my books about ‘the thin, gray light of early morning.’ Which is not what you’re going for at all. I guess if we’re speaking English Aurora is the closest thing we have

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff Salter says:

    Before I read how thoroughly you’ve already researched it, I would’ve bet that the sailors had a single word for that period right before sunrise.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always just referred to it as dawn. I understood that definition of the word to be the time of day when the sky begins to lighten up until sunrise.
    You could always use predawn.


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