A Word A Day : Twilight

Sunday, 13th January 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : twi-lit

1. the time of day just after sunset or before dawn, when the Sun is below the horizon

2. the faint diffuse light that occurs at twilight

3. the time when something is declining or approaching its end, especially in a gentle or peaceful way

4. a state of ambiguity or obscurity

5. a period or condition of decline following growth, glory, or success

6. the period in the morning or, more commonly, in the evening during which this light prevails


15th century - archaic twi -two, half - Germanic


1387 (implied in twilighting), a compound of twi- + light (n.) Cognate with Du. tweelicht (16c.), Ger. zwielicht. Exact connotation of twi- in this word is unclear, but it appears to refer to half light, rather than the fact that twilight occurs twice a day. Cf. also Skt. samdhya twilight, lit. a holding together, junction, M.H.G. zwischerliecht, lit. tweenlight. Originally and most commonly in Eng. with ref. to evening twilight but occasionally used of morning twilight (a sense first attested c.1440). Figurative extension is first recorded 1600.


afterglow, afterlight, decline, dimness, dusk, early evening, ebb, end, evening, eventide, gloaming, half-lift, last phase*, late afternoon, night, nightfall, owl-light, sundown, sunset


daybreak, sunrise, day, daylight, daytime, light, lightness

Contextual Examples:

• The intervening space was empty and a paved solitude, between lofty edifices which threw almost a twilight shadow over it.

• They met daily in that strange and solemn interval, the twilight of the morning, in the violet or pink dawn. For it was necessary to rise early, so very early, here.

• He achieved this when he was in the twilight of his life.

Related Words:

twilight zone: Noun

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