How To Use Dawn, Daybreak, and Aurora

I was recently asked on YouTube how to use dawn, daybreak and aurora correctly. They inspired me to make this video!


My name is Dawn, and I was so named because I was born at sunrise. Dawn as a noun means the beginning of the day. When we were looking to name my business, I was quite glad that there were so many synonyms for my name. Actually, it was my husband who eventually came up with Daybreak English!

You can use dawn and daybreak interchangeably to describe the rising of the sun.

In the movie Frozen – the character Kristoff says to Anna, “We leave at dawn.” Kristoff also could have said:

We leave at daybreak.
We leave at sunrise.
Or, if he was an American, “We leave at sunup.

Beginning of a Time Period

But of those synonyms, only dawn can be used to describe the beginning of a time period or phenomena. The definite article comes before dawn.

It’s the dawn of a new century.
The dawn of civilisation.

Dawn as a Verb

And only dawn can be a verb.

The day dawned bright and clear.
A new day is dawning.

There is a different meaning of dawn, as a verb, that you might not have heard before. Dawn (verb) – to realise something or have a new understanding.

It slowly dawned on me that he was never going to change.
After the detective questioned the suspect, it suddenly dawned on him that she was innocent of the crime.


But in English we hardly ever hear aurora used to describe the beginning of the day, except maybe in poetry or archaic literature! Here’s a famous example:

Morning work! By the blushes of Aurora and the music of Memnon, what should be man’s morning work in this world?

That’s a quote from Henry David Thoreau, from the 1880s! So, it’s not very commonly used in that way anymore. But it is a very pretty name for a girl. Think Sleeping Beauty!

Northern / Southern Lights

These days in normal conversational English we would only use aurora to describe the Northern or Southern Lights.

For example
Did you see the aurora? Yes, it was awesome!

Or you can be more specific and use the full Latin name – aurora borealis or aurora australis if your listeners or readers don’t know to which hemisphere you are referring.

One day I hope to see the aurora borealis!

As always, comments and questions can be left under the video on YouTube.

Until next time!

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