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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

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

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

at the crack of dawn

very early in the morning We had an eight o'clock flight so we were up at the crack of dawn.
See also: crack, dawn, of

dawn on you

to suddenly understand something It finally dawned on him that she'd been joking and he was worried for no reason.
See also: dawn

at the crack of dawn

very early in the morning We had an early flight so we were up at the crack of dawn.
See also: crack, dawn, of

The darkest hour is just before the dawn.

something that you say which means a bad situation often seems worse just before it improves There's still a chance she might recover. The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
See also: before, dark, dawn, hour, just

a false dawn

something which seems to show that a successful period is beginning or that a situation is improving when it is not
Usage notes: False dawn is the light which appears in the sky just before the sun rises in the morning.
His victory in the French Open proved to be a false dawn after he failed to win another title for the next five years.
See also: dawn, false

light dawns

if light dawns on you, you suddenly understand something He was lying to me, but it was months before the light dawned. (often + on ) Light dawned on me when I heard she knew my mother.
See also: dawn, light

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

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

dawn on

or dawn upon
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
References in classic literature ?
Before me was the glittering desolation of the sea, the awful solitude upon which I had already suffered so much; behind me the island, hushed under the dawn, its Beast People silent and unseen.
When the child of morning rosy-fingered Dawn appeared, I bade my men on board and loose the hawsers.
The white Moon heard it, and she forgot the dawn, and lingered on in the sky.
Next Saturday morning my vessel, The Fair Lady, with her captain on board, sails at dawn from Charlottetown harbour, bound for Buenos Ayres.
And when the red sunlight of a fair October dawn was shining over the gray sea The Fair Lady sailed out of Charlottetown harbour.
Avoid shady seats and sleeping until dawn in the harvest season, when the sun scorches the body.
609-617) But when Orion and Sirius are come into mid-heaven, and rosy-fingered Dawn sees Arcturus (30), then cut off all the grape-clusters, Perses, and bring them home.
724-726) Never pour a libation of sparkling wine to Zeus after dawn with unwashen hands, nor to others of the deathless gods; else they do not hear your prayers but spit them back.
But nothing of the sort occurred during this hideous death march, and with the first pale heralding of dawn we reached our goal--an open place in the midst of a tangled wildwood.
They were naturally rough and brutal, as primitive men are supposed to have been since the dawn of humanity, but they did not go out of their way to maltreat me.
With the coming of dawn the number of lions about us seemed to have greatly diminished--at least they made less noise--and as Buckingham and his party disappeared into the woods, leaving me alone to my terrible fate, I could hear the grumblings and growlings of the beasts diminishing with the sound of the chant, which the party still continued.
Within his cramped little mind dwelt something that was greater than Jefferies' books--the spirit that led Jefferies to write them; and his dawn, though revealing nothing but monotones, was part of the eternal sunrise that shows George Borrow Stonehenge.
But do not be surprised if Leonard is shy whenever he meets you, and if the Schlegels rather than Jacky hear about the dawn.
Long slept Zarathustra; and not only the rosy dawn passed over his head, but also the morning.
Twixt rosy dawn and rosy dawn there came unto me a new truth.