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Am I actually contracting the phrase by omitting "good" from it, hence the need for the use of an apostrophe?

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You don't need an apostrophe if you just say "Night." If you clip part of the "good" and say "g'night" then you need an apostrophe. This is actually how the phrase is heard most often.

I sense your discomfort at just using the single word as a sentence.

He rolled over and turned off the light. "Night," he whispered, and kissed his wife on the cheek.

That's a perfectly understandable and even grammatical expression. The "good" is understood, because it is such a common expression.

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I believe this is an example of an imperative. "Good night!" is an imperative, with an implied "Have a" preceding it. As such, I think "Good night" and "Night" should be equally comfortable :o) Still... contractions of contractions are always a little tricky, aren't they? – Dancrumb Feb 24 '11 at 22:18
It's not an imperative, which is a verb form. This is a noun, or might be considered an interjection. – mgkrebbs Feb 25 '11 at 1:17
I would suggest that it depends on the pronunciation one is trying to imply. When the text is written as "G'night", that implies that there is a pronounced hard "g". When the text is written as "Night", that implies a pronunciation akin to "What is the opposite of day?". I would suggest that many people pronounce their pleasant-end-of-day wishes with an opening consonant more like the one in "gnu"--no hard "g", but not the same as "nu". A leading apostrophe would be orthographically weird, but I don't know how else to distinguish that pronunciation. – supercat Oct 15 '12 at 22:21

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