Crack of Dawn – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone you’re getting up early tomorrow morning? You could say you’re rising at “the crack of dawn.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


If you rise every morning at the “crack of dawn,” you’re getting up at “first light.” First light is the period before the dawn when the sun rays start to come over the horizon before you can see the sun itself.

It means to get up very early in the morning at a time when most people are asleep. If you get up at the crack of dawn, you’re telling someone that you intend to get an early start to the day. The saying refers to early risers that enjoy getting up in the early hours of the morning, just before sunrise.

Example Usage

“We’re getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to go fishing. Are you coming, or is that too early for you? I know you’re not a morning person.”

“The swell arrives tonight, and it’s going to be six to eight feet and barreling tomorrow. We’re getting up at the crack of dawn to be the first guys out at the reef.”

“I decided to get up at the crack of dawn this morning to watch the sunrise. It was a beautiful experience, and I think I’ll do it more often.”

“Getting up at the crack of dawn isn’t for everyone. It means going to bed early, and that’s a problem if you’re a night owl.?

“Byron gets up at the crack of dawn every morning and says his prayers before he heads out to work.”

“There’s no reason to get up at the crack of dawn every morning. Why don’t you sleep in for a change?”

“I get up at the crack of dawn every morning to do my yoga and breathing exercises before the sun rises.”

“Is it really necessary to get up at the crack of dawn every day? Why can’t you be like a normal person and get up at six for an early start?”

“Sure, you get up at the crack of dawn, but you’re in bed by 8 pm every night.”


The expression “the crack of dawn” originates from the early rendition of the saying “the crack of day.” The phrase first appears in the late 1800s, but language experts are at a loss to explain the exact origin of the saying.

The word “crack” refers to the first light of the morning before the sun peeks over the horizon. The first use of “crack” to describe a split or opening comes from the 1300s. As the sun starts to reach the horizon, it “cracks”: the darkness of night, bringing in the new day.”

Some language experts believe the saying comes from farmers that would rise early every morning to start their tasks before the heat of the midday sun arrives.

Phrases Similar to Crack of Dawn

  • Grand rising.
  • Up with the sun.

Phrases Opposite to Crack of Dawn

  • Sleep in late.
  • Lazy morning.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Crack of dawn.

Ways People May Say Crack of Dawn Incorrectly

Using the phrase to describe rising after dawn is incorrect. The “crack” of dawn means “first light” before the sunrise.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Crack of Dawn

You can use the phrase “crack of dawn” when you’re telling someone that you’re getting up early or when describing tasks that require you to be awake first thing in the morning. When planning an event, you’ll use the phrase to tell everyone you need to get an early start before sunrise.

The phrase suits social and professional situations. You could say that you want the team ready for the team-building exercise at the crack of dawn. Or you could tell your friend that you like to get up at the crack of dawn each day to watch the sunrise.

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