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I need help finding a good word for the point in time where one day switches to the next. Obviously, the actual point in time would be midnight, but I want a word to emphasize the fact that something is happening over the switching point between two days. So the word I'm looking for would be something like "day limit" or "daybreak", but neither of these sounds very good.

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  • 2
    A new day "dawns". Feb 24 '15 at 9:38
  • If you're trying to emphasize the fact that the day is changing, I'd use "day change". It is redolent of the old flip-based digital clocks that flipped to a new day at midnight. Feb 24 '15 at 9:52
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    Can you give some context? It's hard to tell if you want to imply a long or short interval. By the way, your own suggestion of "daybreak" (one word, no space) is a real word in common usage, but it means dawn. Feb 24 '15 at 20:40
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    FWIW, Calendars of the World by Margo Westrheim doesn't have a word for this. The section titled "Measuring the Day" simply says that ancient cultures "did not agree on when the day began." Feb 25 '15 at 0:18
  • @MarkThompson or even 'day flip'.
    – mcalex
    Feb 25 '15 at 5:43

10 Answers 10

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If any kind of digital clock or calendar is in the picture, then rollover can describe this.

It needs a little context to make it clear: e.g. something like “Nominations open Saturday February 21, at the rollover” may not be understood by all readers, but “Nominations open at midnight, on the rollover from Fri 20 to Sat 21” should be well understood, as should “Nominations open Friday night, at the rollover from 11:59 to 12:00”.

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I think that at the stroke of midnight is a useful expression that comes close to what you are looking for. It actually indicates the last moments of the day and the beginning of a new one.

  • the sound of striking, as of a clock
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  • As the midnight hour struck...
    – WS2
    Feb 24 '15 at 10:01
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    -1 If "midnight" is what one is going to use, why do we need "stroke" at all, what's its relevance to the context or how does it add to the meaning?
    – Kris
    Feb 24 '15 at 11:22
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    The stroke refers to 'the point in time' OP is asking for. It is a useful expression that actually defines the moment in which one day ends and a new one begins.
    – user66974
    Feb 24 '15 at 11:25
  • @Kris I think the OP is looking for a literary expression for the passage through midnight. And clearly since dawn is several hours away that is not suitable. I think the notion of a clock striking is the only one that seems suitable. As the chimes of midnight died away in the distance, the expedition set out.
    – WS2
    Feb 24 '15 at 12:44
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    @Kris Also, colloquially, "midnight" can refer to the whole midnight hour. Like how "the middle of the night" is often used to refer to 1-2am, rather than the stroke of midnight itself. It might not be technically correct, but it is a common usage that could cause confusion.
    – Benubird
    Feb 25 '15 at 10:54
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You might try this :

On the cusp of a new day.

On the cusp:

  • On the threshold or verge of a development or action. (TFD)
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  • Hello Satadru. Your answer has been 'flagged for shortness'. But it's delightful. Feb 24 '15 at 11:02
  • The second definition below the one you cited seems more suitable to the OP's context: "2. At the dividing line or border of two conditions or categories: an artist on the cusp between Victorianism and modernism."
    – Kris
    Feb 24 '15 at 11:21
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Using some Latin, you might consider interdiurnum to be that instant that is between successive days (like interregnum is the time between successive reigns or regimes).

inter (Etymmonline) is

among, between, betwixt, in the midst of

and diurnum is the neuter adjective form of diurnus (Wiktionary), meaning

of the day.

This purposefully overlooks the idea that for some cultures the day ends and begins at midnight, for other cultures the day ends and beings at sunset, or any other concept of when that instant might occur.

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You don't really give a sense of how long an interval you want to include, but if it's fairly diffuse, why not overnight? That's the generally used term for the passage from one day to the next, considered in a wide, extended sense.

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Perhaps changing of the day would work if you need a noun. As the new day began... would also work and would perhaps sound a little less awkward if a prepositional lead-in phrase will work for you.

Both of these indicate the transitioning to the new day rather than just denoting a particular instant.

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through the night

We will be working through the night making the final touches.

Stick with midnight if you want to be perfectly clear.

Even though it is New Years Eve, we will be working through midnight until the normal shift change ends.

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An awakening.

The sleepy animals hang up their furs
Until a new awakening occurs
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How poetic do you want to get? The end of something is call the "Terminus"... ie: "as the day reached its terminus..." The line of sunlight between night and day is called the Terminal. A stopping point along a route is called a terminal, the end of the line, the terminus.

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A poetic offering,

the Hollow (or, hollowed) Hour, that interstice between the past and the future

Hollow adjective;

  1. having a hole or empty space inside.

Sources: LexicoCambridge English DictionaryEncyclopedia.com, and probably others.

The Hollow Hour = 00:00:00 and connotes the emptiness out of which all manifestation proceeds. "Hollowed" echoes, yet opposes, the concept of that which is "hallowed". This interstice in space or time is where all go to die; from where all are born anew. "This is where the world ends"; This is where it all begins again.

the Interstice:

  1. A small opening or space between objects

  2. An interval of time required by the Roman Catholic Church between the attainment of different degrees of an order.

  3. (by extension) A small interval of time free to be spent on activities other than one's primary goal.

  4. (figuratively) A fragment of space.

Source: definition of “interstice” at Wiktionary.

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  • @KillingTime: Why, when a suggested edit is 100% wrong and 100% misguided, do you accept it (thereby rewarding the editor for bad behavior)?
    – Scott
    Sep 19 at 7:53
  • @Scott The edit that I reviewed had three minor changes, which I further amended. The much bigger amendments you made weren't part of that review. Sep 19 at 8:06
  • @KillingTime: The amendments that I made are not an issue.  The edit that you reviewed had three minor changes One was sort-of an improvement, but so trivial as to be invisible. The other two were wrong — you know they were; you had to fix both of them. So maybe Shayan’s suggestion was only 95% wrong overall.  And it was misguided in that it attempted to edit a quote. Imagine if somebody cited “to be or not to be” and somebody tried to replace it with “to live or not to live”.  If you thought changing “the” to “The” was worth doing an edit for, you should have selected “Reject and edit”.
    – Scott
    Sep 21 at 3:27

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