Dawn on is an idiom that has been in use for decades. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying dawn on, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Dawn on means that one is beginning to understand something, that the person has realized something. When something dawns on you, you have had an epiphany. The verbal phrase dawn on came into use to mean to understand something in the 1850s; the imagery is of the dawn breaking and illuminating the world. Related phrases are dawns on, dawned on, dawning on.

Examples

Until our interview, “it didn’t dawn on me that one coincided with the other,” Yarian admits.  (Allure Magazine)

But as this realization sank slowly to the bottom of my heart like a solid fact in a pool of denial, something else, something better, began to dawn on me: Here were three seminarians, hiking in the northern wilderness by night, where the only light apart from our headlamps came from the stars.  (Arlington Catholic Herald)

Lane said it dawned on him that the relationships that he would build at Navy go beyond football after having a discussion with Mids assistant coach Ashley Ingram. (Capital Gazette)



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