the small hours


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the small hours (of the night)

 and the wee hours (of the night)
the hours immediately after midnight. The dance went on into the small hours of the night. Jim goes to bed in the wee hours and gets up at lunchtime.
See also: hour, small

the small hours

the early hours of the morning (often + of ) I was up till the small hours of Wednesday morning finishing off that report. She was born in the small hours of Saturday morning.
See the fine print, Don't sweat the small stuff, make feel small
See also: hour, small
References in classic literature ?
London, which had gone to bed on Sunday night oblivious and inert, was awakened, in the small hours of Monday morning, to a vivid sense of danger.
The night before I sailed, Santos and the captain were aboard with me till the small hours.
Or in the small hours I might make a confidant of my father, and when I had finished reading he would say thoughtfully, 'That lassie is very natural.
In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.
On the minor gambling houses your worship may exercise your power, and it is they that do most harm and shelter the most barefaced practices; for in the houses of lords and gentlemen of quality the notorious sharpers dare not attempt to play their tricks; and as the vice of gambling has become common, it is better that men should play in houses of repute than in some tradesman's, where they catch an unlucky fellow in the small hours of the morning and skin him alive.
Up to the small hours of the morning I could hear the clinking of his test-tubes which told me that he was still engaged in his malodorous experiment.
Here or in other taverns with fewer friends he spent most of his nights, talking and drinking incredible quantities of tea, and going home in the small hours to lie abed until noon.
With the preamble embodied in his share of the foregoing fragment of dialogue, he paid our hero a long visit; as the two men sat with their heels on Newman's glowing hearth, they heard the small hours of the morning striking larger from a far-off belfry.
Great builded voids, great crowded stillnesses put on, often, in the heart of cities, for the small hours, a sort of sinister mask, and it was of this large collective negation that Brydon presently became conscious - all the more that the break of day was, almost incredibly, now at hand, proving to him what a night he had made of it.
The periodical visits of the trooper to these rooms, however, in the course of his patrolling is an assurance of protection and company both to mistress and maid, which renders them very acceptable in the small hours of the night.
Sometimes, however, he sent a scribbled line by special messenger; and overnight, evidently in the train, he had scribbled this one to post in the small hours at Crewe:
Well, a bottle of this stuff is calculated to stiffen an ordinary roomful of ordinary people within five minutes; and I remembered my flask when they had me as good as crucified in the small hours of this morning.
In the small hours of the Saturday morning a tragedy took place at Milchester Abbey.
He sat up, waiting, into the small hours, but she did not come.
In the small hours the breeze weakened, then failed altogether.