I received an email with a discount code valid 'until Saturday midnight' but when I went to use it on Saturday lunchtime it had expired already, at 00:00 Saturday morning.

My understanding was that saying 'midnight' on a day it usually refers to the end of the day (23:59) rather than the start of the day (00:01), at least in the UK where I am it's generally used in that way. 'Midnight tomorrow' for example would refer to midnight tomorrow night. HOWEVER I do understand that technically it is correct either way as it refers to 00:00.

The email was however from a French company - is it common for it to be referred to in this way elsewhere in the world? What is the general consensus for the usage of 'midnight'?

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    In France, "jusqu'à samedi minuit" also refers to till Saturday 23:59:59. – Graffito Nov 29 '15 at 20:04
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    @IconDaemon as stated in the question, I'm in the UK :) – Lyall Nov 29 '15 at 21:40

Midnight is the end of the day, not the beginning: it follows the day's morning, afternoon, and evening. That's what most people think, anyway, and that's what most people would assume in the scenario you describe.

Technically, though, there seems to be no rule. I see how some unscrupulous merchants might want to take advantage of that, the idea being to get you to the store: once you're at the store, you might buy something anyway, discount or no discount.

  • Why did I think this answer was from Ricky as soon as I read "some unscrupulous merchants...."? +1 for cutting to the chase. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Nov 29 '15 at 20:49
  • @ab2: Because anyone other than Ricky would have written "some trustworthy, altruistic, saintly merchants ..." – Ricky Nov 29 '15 at 20:59
  • Most businesses set a deadline of 11:59 or 12:01 in order to avoid this problem. – Steven Littman Nov 29 '15 at 22:32
  • Midnight is the end of the day, not the beginning: it follows the day's morning, afternoon, and evening. This is correct both in terms of regular use of language, and also "mathematically" - in the same way that the year 2000 was the last year of the 20th Century, not the first year of the 21st C. So 23:59 is the end of the second-last minute, and 00:00 is the end of the last minute of a day. However there is great ambiguity as noted, and "Midnight Saturday" could well be the end of Friday Night, for quite a lot of uses. – Cargill Nov 29 '15 at 22:52
  • Where I live, people generally disambiguate saying "midnight to Saturday", when referring to the early midnight of Saturday. "Saturday midnight" and "midnight Saturday" referring to the late midnight. Admittedly though, I haven't heard this disambiguation used many other regions. – Born2Smile Mar 14 '16 at 7:58

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