Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Up at the Crack of Dawn


I was up at the crack of dawn this morning. Why do we call it he crack of dawn? And for that matter why does the day break? What is it about the first sign of light that gives us these phrases?

Endeavouring to Google the answer I discovered that the modern equivalents are BCOD - short for the butt-crack of dawn - and sparrow-fart. These not only make the phrase mildly offensive but also suggest something unpleasant about being up at this time. Despite the discomfort that causes me to be awake this early I love this time of day. It feels as though one is the only person in the whole wide world. A desert island in time.

In the Bible there is a reference in Luke to ‘Dayspring’, a marvellous way to refer to the sunrise. But neither Google nor Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable gave me the answer as to why the dawn cracks so if anyone has any ideas I’d be grateful for their comments.

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