Night owl or early bird

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As one may guess, night owl and early bird are two terms that are opposites, which makes them antonyms. We will examine the difference between the definitions of night owl and early bird, where these two terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A night owl is a person who prefers to work and be active at night. A night owl may or may not catch up on his sleep during daylight hours. This is usually considered a disturbance of the natural circadian rhythms, however many people have successfully adjusted their lives according to their natural sleeping patterns. The word night owl was originally used in the 1500s to describe the actual bird, but soon came to be used figuratively to mean a person who is active at night. The plural form of night owl is night owls.

An early bird, also known as a lark, is a person who rises early in the morning full of energy and usually goes to bed early in the evening. Early bird sometimes refers to someone who arrives much too early at an event. Being an early bird usually carries a connotation of industriousness, but an early bird often misses out on social life as he must retire early in order to rise early. The term early bird was first used in the proverb published by John Ray’s work A Collection of English Proverbs, published in 1670: “The early bird catcheth the worm.” The plural form of early bird is early birds.


There are definite benefits to being a night owl, but for some the feeling of perpetual sleepiness and the inability to go to bed early might be the unwanted result of a newly discovered gene mutation. (The Reader’s Digest)

Many artists of all kinds took advantage of their inability to conform to an early bird circadian rhythm. (San Francisco College Today)