The Meaning of 'La Nuit' in French

See a Starry Night, Have a Good Night's Sleep and More

Nighttime in Paris

Barbara Frish / EyeEm / Getty Images

La nuit, meaning night or dark(ness), is pronounced "nwee." It is a frequently used French intransitive noun that most often describes that part of the day when it's dark, but it's quite common, too, to hear it used figuratively, as a symbol of something dark or fearsome.


Given that night is an unavoidable fact of our lives every single day, it's natural that la nuit is used in so many idiomatic expressions. Here are a few:

  • Bonne nuit. — Good night.
  • Il fait nuit. — It's dark.
  • Passer une bonne nuit — to have a good night's sleep
  • Une nuit blanche / une nuit d'insomnie — a sleepless night
  • Une nuit bleue — a night of terror / a night of bomb attacks
  • Une nuitée — an overnight stay
  • La nuit porte conseil. — Let's sleep on it.
  • La nuit tous les chats sont gris. (proverb) — All cats are grey in the dark.
  • La nuit tombe. — It's getting dark.
  • Rentrer avant la nuit — return before dark / nightfall
  • À la nuit tombante, à la tombée de la nuit — at dusk, at nightfall
  • Se perdre dans la nuit des temps — to be lost in the mists of time
  • C'est le jour et la nuit ! — It's like night and day!
  • Une nuit étoilée — a starry night
  • Faire sa nuit — sleep through the night
  • La nuit de noces — the wedding night
  • Toute la nuit — all night long
  • Toutes les nuits — every night
  • La nuit de la Saint-Sylvestre — night of New Year's Eve
  • Payer sa nuit — to pay for the night
  • Animaux de nuit — nocturnal animals
  • Pharmacie de nuit — all-night pharmacy, 24-hour pharmacy
  • Travailler de nuit — to work the night shift, to work nights

Parts of the Day ('le Jour')

Let's make the tour of one 24-hour period, beginning in the middle of the night, when il fait nuit noire, "it's pitch-black." Chaque jour ("every day") as the sun starts to come up, the day begins to go through the following stages: 

  • l'aube (f) — the dawn
  • le matin — the morning
  • la matinée — all morning, the morning
  • la journée — all day long, the day, the daytime
  • le midi — noon, 12 p.m.
  • l'après-midi (m) — the afternoon
  • le crépuscule — dusk, nightfall
  • le soir — the evening, night
  • la soirée — all evening, evening
  • la veille de — the eve of
  • la nuit — the night
  • le minuit — midnight, 12 a.m.
  • le lendemain — the next day
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Team, ThoughtCo. "The Meaning of 'La Nuit' in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). The Meaning of 'La Nuit' in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "The Meaning of 'La Nuit' in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).