dawn

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dawn of a new day

A new or fresh beginning, or a turning point that achieves as much. With their first democratically elected leader in office, many in the nation felt that it was the dawn of a new day.
See also: dawn, new, of

handbags at dawn

A confrontation or disagreement that is highly aggressive, emotionally expressive, and/or highly dramatic, but which does not end or result in violence. Used originally and primarily in reference to football (soccer) players, who would be sent off if they engaged in violent actions, the phrase is a play on the clichéd "pistols at dawn," indicating a forthcoming pistol duel. Primarily heard in UK. It was handbags at dawn between the two players, who had been verbally taunting one another throughout the match.
See also: dawn, handbag

false dawn

A situation that looks like it is beginning to improve when, in reality, it is not. Barb thought her marriage was beginning to improve when her husband came home in a good mood, but it proved to be a false dawn when he handed her divorce papers. Everyone was happy when they heard that they were all getting a raise, but it turned out to be a false dawn when management cut all of their hours.
See also: dawn, false

at the crack of dawn

Very early in the morning, when the sun rises (dawn). It's a long drive, so we'll have to leave at the crack of dawn if we want to get there on time.
See also: crack, dawn, of

dawn (up)on (one)

To occur to one. Once I pulled up to the bank, it dawned on me that I had forgotten my wallet. Did it just dawn on you that throwing the ball in the house might be a bad idea, or did you have that realization before breaking mom's vase?
See also: dawn

light dawns (on one)

To understand or realize something with sudden clarity or certainty. The light finally dawned when I remembered that my grandfather had been stationed in Japan many years ago. She'd been cheating on me for months, but it was only when he left his tie in the house that the light dawned on me.
See also: dawn, light

the darkest hour is just before the dawn

The worst part of an experience or period usually happens just before things get better. When I was lost in depression, friends tried to remind me that the darkest hour is just before the dawn
See also: before, dark, dawn, hour, just

at the crack of dawn

 and at the break of dawn
Fig. at the earliest light of the day. Jane was always awake at the crack of dawn. The birds start singing at the break of dawn.
See also: crack, dawn, of

darkest hour is just before the dawn

 and It's always darkest just before the dawn.
Prov. When things are extremely bad, it may signal that they are about to get much better. Jill: I feel like giving up. I don't have a job, my boyfriend left me, and they're raising the rent for my apartment. Jane: It's always darkest just before the dawn.
See also: before, dark, dawn, hour, just

dawn (up)on someone

Fig. [for a fact] to become apparent to someone; [for something] to be suddenly realized by someone. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) Then it dawned upon me that I was actually going to have the job. On the way home, it dawned on me that I had never returned your call, so when I got home I called immediately.
See also: dawn, on

from dawn to dusk

Fig. during the period of the day when there is light; from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun. I have to work from dawn to dusk on the farm. The factory runs from dawn to dusk to produce hats and gloves.
See also: dawn

It's always darkest just before the dawn.

See The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
See also: always, before, dark, dawn, just

crack of dawn

Very early morning, daybreak. For example, I got up at the crack of dawn. The crack in this term alludes either to the suddenness of sunrise or to the small wedge of light appearing as the sun rises over the horizon. Originally the term was usually put as crack of day. [Late 1800s]
See also: crack, dawn, of

dawn on

Also, dawn upon. Become evident or understood, as in It finally dawned on him that he was expected to call them, or Around noon it dawned upon me that I had never eaten breakfast. This expression transfers the beginning of daylight to the beginning of a thought process. Harriet Beecher Stowe had it in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852): "The idea that they had either feelings or rights had never dawned upon her." [Mid-1800s]
See also: dawn, on

light dawned, the

Understanding came at last, as in They couldn't figure out where they went wrong, but then the light dawned-they'd turned right instead of left . This expression transfers the beginning of dawn to human perception. [c. 1800]
See also: light

at the crack of dawn

If you do something at the crack of dawn, you do it very early in the morning. I'm not used to getting up at the crack of dawn. We set off at the crack of dawn.
See also: crack, dawn, of

a false dawn

mainly BRITISH, JOURNALISM
COMMON If an event is a false dawn, it seems to show that something is improving or something successful is happening, but in fact it is not. The new age of enterprise which the Government hoped would revitalise Britain in the Eighties turned out to be a false dawn. Everything they have said is sensible but we have had a lot of false dawns with this company before.
See also: dawn, false

light dawns

If light dawns, you suddenly realize or understand something. I didn't realize they were a couple till I saw them together last night and the light suddenly dawned. Note: You can also say that light dawns on someone. `Oh!' she said, as if the light had finally dawned on her. `I'm on the wrong floor, huh?'
See also: dawn, light

the crack of dawn

very early in the morning.
Crack here means the instant of time occupied by the crack of a whip.
See also: crack, dawn, of

a false dawn

a misleadingly hopeful sign.
A false dawn is literally a transient light in the sky which precedes the rising of the sun by about an hour, commonly seen in Eastern countries.
1992 Frank McLynn Hearts of Darkness After five weeks Clapperton seemed to recover; it proved merely a false dawn for two days later Clapperton died.
See also: dawn, false

the crack of ˈdawn

(informal) very early in the morning: We’ll have to get up at the crack of dawn to be there by 9 a.m.
See also: crack, dawn, of

(the) light ˈdawned (on somebody)

somebody suddenly understood or began to understand something: I puzzled over the problem for ages before the light suddenly dawned on me.
See also: dawn, light

dawn on

or dawn upon
v.
To begin to be perceived or understood by someone; become apparent to someone: It dawned on me that I had forgotten to pick up some milk. A possible motive for the crime dawned upon the detective.
See also: dawn, on
References in classic literature ?
When the morning dawned, however, Zarathustra found himself in a thick forest, and no path was any longer visible.
A light hath dawned upon me: I need companions--living ones; not dead companions and corpses, which I carry with me where I will.