In this adventure we investigate the origins of the word twilight.
Twilight [ˈtwaɪˌlaɪt] means:
- The soft light in the sky seen before the rising and (especially) after the setting of the sun, occasioned by the illumination of the earth’s atmosphere by the direct rays of the sun and their reflection on the earth.
- The time when this light is visible; the period between daylight and darkness
It comes from Middle English twilight (twilight), from twi- (double, half) and li(g)ht (light), which ultimately come from PIE *dwi- (two, double), and *lewk- (light). So twilight means ‘second/half light’ [source].
Twilight is also known as the blue hour, a calque of the French term heure bleue as the sky become a deep blue during twilight. [source].
In French it is also known as entre chien et loup (“between dog and wolf”) – a calque of the Latin inter canem et lupum, which means the same thing – because at twilight the difference between a dog and a wolf is not clear. [source].
Another word for twilight, used in northern England and Scotland, is gloaming, from Old English glōm (gloom, twilight, darkness) [source].
The prefix twi- appears in other English words, although few are currently used. They include: twifaced (having two faces, deceitful), twithought (a vague, uncertain or indistinct thought, doubt), twi-tongued (having two tongues, deceitful), and twi-minded (double-minded, uncertain, doubtful) [source].
Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.