I am looking for information about the beautiful english word dayspring.

  • Exact meaning, with a link to the meaning in a dictionary. I know dayspring means "dawn or first ray of light" but I want to know the exact meaning — what shows, can you see a "daybreak" on the flat earth, and any other nuances.

  • Information about where dayspring came from and where it was first used.

  • Some examples of its use from the beautiful english literature.

  • 7
    What did you find out when you looked it up in a dictionary? Read it If you haven't and ask us about anything you don't understand. Nov 3, 2020 at 2:46
  • it just says dawn or first ray of light but i want to get exact meaning, what shows, can you see a "daybreak" on the flat earth or not? at the end of : youtube.com/watch?v=S8J9AkMzmj4
    – user404433
    Nov 3, 2020 at 2:57
  • 9
    What do you mean by "flat earth"? What do you think "daybreak" means if not the first light of the day?
    – nnnnnn
    Nov 3, 2020 at 3:53
  • 2
    @user404433 As far as I can tell in the video (4:59:00 for anyone interested) he's arguing that the Bible disproves flat earth "theory". While I think his explanation is a little weak here, it is true that, on a flat earth, dawn would happen globally at exactly the same time. But even simple experiments can confirm this doesn't match reality - sunrise occurs progressively around the world on a 24-hour cycle. Ergo, the Earth is round. Nov 3, 2020 at 15:06
  • 2
    If you are attempting to use the Bible to disprove or prove a flat earth, you should look at the Hebrew original, not base your argument on words invented by Bible translators that may have subtly different meanings or connotations. There are plenty of annotated Bible texts online which will tell you the Hebrew word.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 3, 2020 at 15:12

4 Answers 4


The word used to be familiar to many English people from the Bible passage known as the Benedictus which is used in Morning Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. It is from Luke 1 verses 68-79. Verse 78 reads Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us. In modern Bible translations the word is given as dawn.

The derivation is fairly self-evident; the beginning of the daylight, as a spring of water may be the beginning of a river.



Exact meaning, with a link to the meaning in a dictionary.

The OED (which I think is pay-walled, so I can't post the link) defines the word as a synonym of "dawn" and "daybreak", with the addition that its later use is chiefly poetic or figurative.

Information about where dayspring came from and where it was first used.

The first attestation is in the 1382 Wycliffite Bible as a translation of Latin aurorae in Job 38:12:

"Whether […] thou […] hast shewid to the dai spring his place"

The word itself is a compound word consisting of the nouns day and spring. The latter is derived from the verb to spring, which has one of its meanings listed in the OED: "Of dawn, morning, daylight, etc.: to appear, to become perceptible; to appear over the horizon or in the sky". The earliest attestation of spring in this sense is from the beginning of the 14th century:

"Al þe day & al þe niȝt, Til hit sprang dai liȝt." (from "King Horn", c1300).


The 1382 Wycliffe Bible translates Job 38:12 as:

Whether aftir thi rising thou comaundedist to the morutid, and hast shewid to the dai spring his place?

"dai spring" means "dawn" in this verse.


dayspring is a compound word, composed of day and spring.

day in this case is our common understanding of that portion of a 24-hour period in which there is sunlight.

spring is used in an archaic sense of "origin", "beginning", or "source". (It's actually from a Germanic word that means an upwelling of water, such as a well or stream.)

From a more technical perspective, "sunrise" is an approximate synonym. I highly encourage you to watch a sunrise, to get a sense of the changes that occur from the period of complete darkness until the sun is fully visible.

When we were dating, my (now) wife and I watched a sunrise from a boardwalk on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the United States. We arrived about a half hour prior to sunrise. It was quite dark, except for the street lamps behind us. Ahead was pitch black with the sound of ocean waves breaking.

After a few moments, the horizon began to reveal itself - the boundary between sea and sky. While the sea remained relatively dark, the sky shifted through shades of gray, blue, yellow, and then white. Streaks (rays*) of light reflected through the wispy clouds. Eventually, a deep orange sliver of the sun peeked above the horizon. Along with the sea and the land, we were immediately bathed in light. The light grew and grew as the sun climbed, until it was fully revealed.

In my mind, then, the sunrise is that entire process, while dayspring consists of that instant where light suddenly breaks across everything around you.

* Regarding light rays, these are actually formed when clouds partially block sunlight, at different levels of dispersion. In some places the light will be more completely blocked, while in others it streams through relatively unhindered. This results in a "ray" or beam effect, even though from a purely physical perspective it's somewhat of an illusion.

  • spring is used in an archaic sense of "origin", "beginning", or "source". Can you cite a source for this conclusion, as opposed to the sense of "leap up or forth"? Both senses seem plausible.
    – LarsH
    Nov 3, 2020 at 17:16
  • @LarsH It's the difference between the noun and verb forms. Per merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spring#h2 and as noted further down that page, from the 12th century onward. Nov 3, 2020 at 17:34
  • The noun form also can have the sense of "the act or an instance of leaping up or forward," according the entry you linked to. So the difference between noun and verb doesn't tell us which sense is reflected in "dayspring."
    – LarsH
    Nov 3, 2020 at 19:15

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