Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Mark Halperin’s article on the Missouri Congressman and Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin’s gaffe in August 20 Time magazine ends up with the lines:

“So far, not publicly calling for Akin to leave the race, as Scott Brown did. But the day is young.”

I am interested in the phrase, “the day is young,” which I understand means it’s still early to tell what will happen next, or the end result.

Google Ngram shows this phrase emerged in 1840, and its usage has sharply declined after peaking during 1910–1940.

What is the history of “the day is young”? Do you say 'the day (or year) is old'?

By the way, we have a popular saying, “The day is long,” in Japanese. But it has a rather positive meaning of “You can do (achieve) still a lot of things before the day is over,” for example, “Let’s have another drink, Taro. The day is long,” after having one.

Can’t I use “The day is young” to this effect in English?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think this idiom is particularly common -- I don't read or hear it much -- but I think most English-speakers would recognize it.

It has both a literal use and a metaphorical use. You can say, "We'll get to that later -- the day is young" meaning there is still time in this literal day. You can also use it to refer to a longer period of time, as would appear to be the case in the quote you cite. I doubt the speaker expects the issue to necessarily be resolved within 24 hours, but the implication is that it will be fairly soon.

As to saying "The day is young" at 5:00 to indicate there is still time to go out for a drink or whatever ... I think English-speakers would be more likely to say, "The night is young", a slightly different idiom.

share|improve this answer

"Young" and "early" are semantically extremely similar. The use of one for the other in English is not too surprising and usually easily understood.

share|improve this answer

"The day is young" corresponds to "the hour is early" or better still simply "it is early".

To me "the day is early" would be slightly unusual, but might suggest the early part of a longer period, such as a month or year.

share|improve this answer

It comes from the soothsayer in the murder of Cesar. He told Cesar to beware the Ides of March (March 15) by the Roman calender. When the 15th of March arrived Cesar saw him and shouted "Talisman ! Behold the Ides of March are here and so am I! And he replied "Aye, But the day is still young, the day is still young.

share|improve this answer
    
Do you have a source that proves Shakespeare wrote the first recorded use of the expression? –  IQAndreas Mar 16 at 1:03

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.