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dawn (v.)

c. 1200, dauen, "to become day, grow light in the morning," shortened or back-formed from dauinge, dauing "period between darkness and sunrise," (c. 1200), from Old English dagung, from dagian "to become day," from Proto-Germanic *dagaz "day" (source also of German tagen "to dawn"), from PIE root *agh- "a day." Probably influenced by Scandinavian cognates (Danish dagning, Old Norse dagan "a dawning"). Related: Dawned; dawning.

Figurative sense "begin to develop" is from 1717. Of ideas, etc., "begin to become apparent or evident to the mind," by 1852.

dawn (n.)

1590s, "first appearance of daylight in the morning," from dawn (v.). Middle English words for "first appearance of light in the morning" were day-gleam (late 14c.), dayspring (c. 1300), and dawning. Dawn (n.) in the figurative sense of "first opening or expansion of anything" is from 1630s. As a fem. proper name, little used in U.S. before 1920 but a top 25 name for girls born 1966-1975.

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Definitions of dawn from WordNet
1
dawn (v.)
become clear or enter one's consciousness or emotions;
It dawned on him that she had betrayed him
Synonyms: click / get through / come home / get across / sink in / penetrate / fall into place
dawn (v.)
appear or develop;
The age of computers had dawned
dawn (v.)
become light;
It started to dawn, and we had to get up
2
dawn (n.)
the first light of day;
we got up before dawn
Synonyms: dawning / morning / aurora / first light / daybreak / break of day / break of the day / dayspring / sunrise / sunup / cockcrow
dawn (n.)
the earliest period;
the dawn of civilization
Synonyms: morning
dawn (n.)
an opening time period;
it was the dawn of the Roman Empire
From wordnet.princeton.edu