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Twelfth Night

the evening before Twelfth Day, formerly observed with various festivities.
the evening of Twelfth Day itself.
(italics) a comedy (1602) by Shakespeare.
Origin of Twelfth Night
before 900; Middle English; Old English Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for twelfth-night
Historical Examples
  • Nana and Fontan have invited a few friends to cut their twelfth-night cake with them.

  • Do you know this is twelfth-night—the night for telling fortunes?

    Throckmorton Molly Elliot Seawell
  • Let all idle gazers, then, in the streets of London beware of twelfth-night!

    The Book of Christmas Thomas K. Hervey
  • In Normandy, if any of the family are absent when the cake is cut on twelfth-night, his share is carefully put by.

  • During the entire twelve months there is no such illumination of pastry-cooks' shops, as on twelfth-night.

    The Book of Christmas Thomas K. Hervey
  • He had broken his leg the evening before on his way home from a twelfth-night feast at a neighbour's.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • It is this,—that if you will send him word to come again, he will be here by twelfth-night.

    The Mistletoe Bough Anthony Trollope
  • twelfth-night had come and gone, and life next morning seemed a trifle flat and purposeless.

    The Golden Age Kenneth Grahame
  • He had broken his leg the evening before on his way home from a twelfth-night feast at a neighbor's.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • Mother Coupeau, who had coughed and choked all through December, was obliged to take to her bed after twelfth-night.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
British Dictionary definitions for twelfth-night

Twelfth Night

  1. the evening of Jan 5, the eve of Twelfth Day, formerly observed with various festal celebrations
  2. the evening of Twelfth Day itself
  3. (as modifier): Twelfth-Night customs
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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twelfth-night in Culture

Twelfth Night definition

A comedy by William Shakespeare. The two central characters are a twin brother and sister; each thinks that the other has been lost at sea. The sister disguises herself as a boy and goes to serve the duke of the country, a bitter man disappointed in love. The brother reappears and marries the woman whom the duke has been pursuing, and his sister marries the duke. Twelfth Night begins with the line “If music be the food of love, play on.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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