Definition of nocturne in US English:



  • 1Music
    A short composition of a romantic or dreamy character suggestive of night, typically for piano.

    • ‘I played the nocturne in a loop, and I felt a pang of remembrance course through my whole person.’
    • ‘Pulling out the bench and grabbing her sheet music (although she didn't need it), Nicole began to play a nocturne by her favorite composer, Chopin.’
    • ‘His televised recordings of the composer's complete nocturnes have been screened throughout Europe, Australia and on PBS in the United States.’
    • ‘Its singing melodies, rocking accompaniments and romantic harmonies advance the composition of nocturnes from Field to Chopin.’
    • ‘If piano students are playing Mozart and Haydn sonatas, Chopin nocturnes and Debussy preludes, they certainly are capable of playing some chamber music repertoire.’
  • 2Art
    A picture of a night scene.

    • ‘Her early nocturnes display an antimodernist nostalgia for pre-reservation Indian life that would have appealed to both non-Indian and Indian viewers.’
    • ‘In order to get a fuller understanding of de la Tour's art, students should also study some of his nighttime pictures, his nocturnes.’
    • ‘Born in Leeds, where he spent most of his working life, Grimshaw is best known for his nocturnes but began his career as a landscape painter.’
    • ‘The soft focus and murky shadows of his nocturnes gave way to the need to make the clearest images possible.’
    • ‘For the most part, his early paintings are nocturnes in the style of Whistler.’


Mid 19th century: French, from Latin nocturnus ‘of the night’.