If possible, perhaps with a very mildly negative connotation, with the suggestion that said behavior of staying up late is not necessarily productive and potentially avoidable.

  • 1
    Metaphorical 'owl' is often used without the adjective, contrasting with 'lark'. May 10, 2017 at 21:32
  • I don't know a single word, but I had a look online to see if the phrase 'dirty stop-up' existed as a variation of 'dirty stop-out' and it apparently does- to some extent at least. A 'dirty stop-out' is, in British English, someone who stays out later than than is thought proper, though it's use is now generally jocular it is pejorative.
    – Spagirl
    May 10, 2017 at 21:33
  • 2
    It seems that 'moonlighter' used to mean "commit crimes at night". That would be very close for you if it still did, but it doesn't anymore. But most of the time, if you're moonlighting, whatever you're doing might be considered a possible interference to your 'day' job. However, it's generally seen as doing some activity, not just sitting around watching late night T.V.
    – John
    May 10, 2017 at 21:34
  • There's lucubrator, but I'd say its connotations are closer to mildly-positive than mildly-negative, at least in regards to the staying-up-late. Of course, the pejorative term that I've most often heard used by morning people is lazy, in reference to when night owls arise in the morning as much as to when they (we) go to bed.
    – 1006a
    May 10, 2017 at 21:35
  • The M-W Thesaurus gives nighthawk as a synonym for night owl, but I am unsure if this has the desired connotation. May 10, 2017 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


Night owl is a "single word." Ignore the space. You could write it nightowl. At any rate it's a single compound word.

See the post on Grammarly.

  • Here's a link for you to add to your answer.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 10, 2017 at 0:22

Insomniac may be what you are looking for. Although its official (medical) definition is someone who can't sleep; in unofficial, informal uses, this word's meaning shades over into someone who won't sleep.

Also, since you're trying to imply compulsive, self-destructive behavior, it's perfect for someone whose true insomnia is brought about by their compulsion.

Finally, if you're amenable to a multi-word idiom, English has one that means precisely what you want : burning the candle at both ends.


to work or do other things from early in the morning until late at night and so get very little rest

  • 4
    An excuse to quote one of my favourite poems: 'My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!'
    – Spagirl
    May 10, 2017 at 22:34
  • @Spagirl Thank you for your poetic reassurance on my intractable nocturnal activites! May 10, 2017 at 22:46
  • This is close, but the common interpretation of insomniac seems to be more along the lines of "one who has trouble sleeping" vs. "one who chooses not to sleep." Of all the great suggestions offered so far I think "night owl" best captures what I want to communicate, so I'll have to accept that there may not be an appropriate single word in the situation.
    – dekaliber
    May 18, 2017 at 5:56

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