from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A painting of a night scene.
  • n. An instrumental composition of a pensive, dreamy mood, especially one for the piano.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A work of art relating or dedicated to the night.
  • n. A dreamlike or pensive composition (usually for the piano).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A night piece, or serenade. The name is now used for a certain graceful and expressive form of instrumental composition, as the nocturne for orchestra in Mendelsohn's “Midsummer-Night's Dream” music.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In painting, a night-piece; a painting exhibiting some of the characteristic effects of night-light.
  • n. In music, a composition, properly instrumental, which is intended to embody the dreamy sentiments appropriate to the evening or the night; a pensive and sentimental melody; a reverie; a serenade. The style of composition and the term are peculiar to the romantic school. Also notturno.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a pensive lyrical piece of music (especially for the piano)


French, from Old French, nocturnal, from Latin nocturnus; see nocturnal.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French nocturne ("nocturnal"), from Latin nocturnus (Wiktionary)



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  • The hands on the clock turn, but don't sing a nocturne just yet.

    May 22, 2007

  • The opposite of aubade.

    December 9, 2006