first light


first light

Meaning | Synonyms

  • the time when the light begins to appear in the morning
  • dawn
  • daybreak
  • cock-crow
  • break of day
  • crack of dawn
  • daylight
  • sunrise or sunup

Example Sentences

  1. The search for the missing children will continue at first light.
  2. We have to leave at first light if we want to make it to the other side of the mountain by midday.
  3. At first light, the elephants went in search of a watering hole.
  4. We will leave at first light.
  5. America and allies had finally decided that the nuclear bomb would be dropped at first light on two cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki of Japan.


The phrase has been used since the 1700s. It presumably dates back to a time when people had no other way of telling the time. They would use the phrase to indicate a particular moment in time. It was often used to signal the start of a journey. “We will leave at first light”.

The origin is not difficult to guess. As soon as the sun rises above the horizon the world is illuminated. It is the first light of the day and before electricity, it was not easy to see where you were going when traveling at night.

It is still used to signal the beginning of the day. Often used in instances where natural light makes the task easier. For example, when searching for something.

It is typically preceded by the word “at” to become “at first light”.

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