[nahyt] /naɪt/

the period of darkness between sunset and sunrise.
the beginning of this period; .
the darkness of night; the dark.
a condition or time of obscurity, ignorance, sinfulness, misfortune, etc.:
the long night of European history known as the Dark Ages.
(sometimes initial capital letter) an evening used or set aside for a particular event, celebration, or other special purpose:
a night on the town; poker night; New Year’s Night.
of or relating to night:
the night hours.
occurring, appearing, or seen at night:
a night raid; a night bloomer.
used or designed to be used at night:
to take a night coach; the night entrance.
working at night:
night nurse; the night shift.
active at night:
the night feeders of the jungle.
night and day,

Also, day and night.
the period of darkness each 24 hours between sunset and sunrise, as distinct from day
(modifier) of, occurring, working, etc, at night: a night nurse
the occurrence of this period considered as a unit: four nights later they left
the period between sunset and retiring to bed; evening
the time between bedtime and morning: she spent the night alone
the weather conditions of the night: a clear night
the activity or experience of a person during a night
(sometimes capital) any evening designated for a special observance or function
nightfall or dusk
a state or period of gloom, ignorance, etc
make a night of it, to go out and celebrate for most of the night
night and day, continually: that baby cries night and day

Old English niht (West Saxon neaht, Anglian næht, neht) “night, darkness;” the vowel indicating that the modern word derives from oblique cases (genitive nihte, dative niht), from Proto-Germanic *nakht- (cf. Old Saxon and Old High German naht, Old Frisian and Dutch nacht, German Nacht, Old Norse natt, Gothic nahts).

The Germanic words are from PIE *nekwt- “night” (cf. Greek nuks “a night,” Latin nox, Old Irish nochd, Sanskrit naktam “at night,” Lithuanian naktis “night,” Old Church Slavonic nosti, Russian noch’, Welsh henoid “tonight”), according to Watkins, probably from a verbal root *neg- “to be dark, be night.” For spelling with -gh- see fight.

The fact that the Aryans have a common name for night, but not for day (q.v.), is due to the fact that they reckoned by nights. [Weekley]

Cf. German Weihnachten “Christmas.” In early times, the day was held to begin at sunset, so Old English monanniht “Monday night” was the night before Monday, or what we would call Sunday night.

To work nights preserves the Old English genitive of time. Night shift is attested from 1710 in the sense of “garment worn by a woman at night” (see shift (n.1)); meaning “gang of workers employed after dark” is from 1839. Night soil “excrement” (1770) is so called because it was removed (from cesspools, etc.) after dark. Night train attested from 1838. Night life “habitual nocturnal carousing” attested from 1852.

Related Terms

amateur night, good night, saturday night special

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  • Nightlong

    [adjective nahyt-lawng, -long; adverb nahyt-lawng, -long] /adjective ˈnaɪtˌlɔŋ, -ˌlɒŋ; adverb ˈnaɪtˈlɔŋ, -ˈlɒŋ/ adjective 1. lasting all night: a nightlong snowfall. adverb 2. through the entire night: They typed nightlong to finish the reports. /ˈnaɪtˌlɒŋ/ adjective, adverb 1. throughout the night adj. Old English nihtlang; see night + -long.

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