school night

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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school night

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:47 pm

I'm curious about the term 'school night' to mean 'the evening before a schoolday'. As far as I know, it's mostly current in the USA, and possibly also in Canada.

Although she no longer goes to school or college, my wife still uses the fact that 'it's a school night' as a reason not to take part in inconvenient activities that are scheduled for a weekday evening. She is not the only person I know who uses it in this way.

How widespread is the usage, and how old is it?
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Re: school night

Post by trolley » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:25 pm

It was very common when I was growing up and I believe that it still is. It was something that our parents always used as an answer when we asked to stay up late to watch a special TV show or stay out past our regular curfew.
"You can't stay out late tomorrow. It's a school night."
The idea was that we had to get up early and be sharp. We had important things to do and we'd need our rest.
Now, it's a "work night" and I don't need my parents to remind me that it's not a good idea to stay out late.
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Re: school night

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:22 am

aaa
Erik, Like John, I’ve heard this expression as far back as I can remember.

OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

SCHOOL NIGHT: (a) an evening or night on which schooling takes place (now rare); (b) a night before a morning on which one must get up for school or (humorously) work.
_____________________

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:

Note: Although the OED says in their above definition that (a) is now ‘rare,’ they don’t say which of their quotes that applies to. I would say the ‘modern’ definition applies to the 1931 quote on. Also, I noticed in skimming through one news archive that the first instance of the use of ‘school night’ that I found in a British publication was from 1995. From then on there was a gradual increase in its use, until today where I found it to be relatively common.
<1772 “Mr. Patence begs leave to inform the Public in general, that his School Nights begin on Wednesday evening next.”—Gazetteer & New Daily Advertiser, 22 September.>

<1852 “If it was school night, the voluntary pupils went to their tasks, the masters to their posts.”— Stray Leaves from Arctic Journal by Osborn, page 169>

<1920 “On the last school night of each week the teacher will give each man a card showing his attendance for that week.”—Employment Methods by N. W. Shefferman, page 495>

<1931 In the upper three years of high school the chief source [of friction] is the number of times they go out on school nights and the hour they get in at night.”—Social Psychology by J. K. Folsom, viii. page 376>

<1991 “Up late on a school night, Miss Terry wonders, ‘What if five hours’ sleep and strong coffee won't cut it’?”—Life Magazine. November, page 54>

<2001 “‘OK, gang, it's a school night and I've got to get to bed’ is not rude.”—The Fabulous Girl's Guide to Decorum by Izzo & Marsh, page 288>

<2007 “The Sleep Council, which promotes the importance of a good night's rest to health, also found that 30 per cent of teenagers were getting only four to seven hours sleep on a school night.”—Daily Mail (London), 28 August>

<2013 “By halftime, the Tide had rolled to a 28-0 lead, which, for those on the East Coast, was a good thing because it meant not having to stay up late on a school night.”— Washington Post (D.C.), 9 January>
______________________

Ken – February 11, 2013
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Re: school night

Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:26 am

.. this term is used in Aus and is not recent .. both myself and my beloved can remember being beaten down about it being a school night, so that takes it back to at least the 60's .. .. and it is definitely NOT rare as suggested by the OED .. we still use it with our grandkids .. in Aus school nights run from Sunday night to Thursday night, ie any night that is followed by a school day .. my quotes are just to illustrate Aussie usage ..
<Dec 12, 2005> Never before on a school night has the slogan “Fuck this, I’m going to the Annandale” been more accurate. It’s a boiling Thursday night in Sydney, the McDonalds across the road from the Annandale Hotel is loitered by cool kids in cool clothes and everybody’s making their way to see the best of Australia’s next generation of musical acts.
faster, louder Gig Reviews

<Feb 11, 2008> Couldn't stay up late on a school night last year to watch the SBS coverage of the Australian Sport Awards?
Badminton Oceania

<Jan 18, 2012> The balmy Adelaide night wears on, and Coller begins to yawn, setting off Lee, and we finish our wine. I realise it's time for me to go. It's a school night and the trio probably want to get to bed.
Sydney Morning Herald

<Jan 17, 2013> Though it’s been a while since their wives let them out on a school night, the pair – one of whom prefers not to be named – were granted special leave to attend a concert by US nerdcore act Weezer.
faster, louder Gig Reviews
.. and when I was looking around I found extensions of the standard school night .. the first a negation ..
<Sep 01, 2007> "The older kids are accumulating a massive sleep deficit during the week and catching up on weekends," Professor Olds said. "By age 18, they sleep a little over eight hours a night on school days, but still sleep 10 hours each non-school night."
Sydney Morning Herald
.. and the second an extension to include work night ..
<May 17, 2009> The Shins were finally up next. They took longer than I wanted them to get on stage. It was a work/school night after all; work night for me, school night for majority of the audience.
ReadJunk website
.. I also spotted the word used in the Times of India ..

.. Ken I do not believe that the 1772 quote is a valid example of the usage we are investigating .. I suggest that Mr Patence is in fact letting his community know that he will be teaching Night School classes beginning next Wednesday night ..

.. and even the 1852 and 1920 quotes ring a little off key for me .. I can still read them as referring to Night School classes .. when I was at a Private School in Sydney we would have School Nights .. these were held at School, at night so that pupils could catch up work and have all staff available to assist .. typically they were near exam time ..

WoZ who is tiring of work nights
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: school night

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:24 am

WoZ, I couldn't track down the 1772 citation, but I did locate those from 1852 and 1920. You were correct in thinking that they referred to some kind of night school.

The 1852 citation is describing life on board a ship that is spending the winter in total darkness above the Arctic Circle (see http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24891/24891-8.txt ):
2 P.M. A little afternoon exercise was then taken, and the evening meal, of tea, next partaken of. If it was school night, the voluntary pupils went to their tasks, the masters to their posts; reading men producing their books, writing men their desks, artists painted by candle-light, and cards, chess, or draughts, combined with conversation, and an evening's glass of grog, and a cigar or pipe, served to bring round bed-time again.

The 1920 citation relates to free public night schools for immigrants to America who are learning to speak English (see http://ia600302.us.archive.org/30/items ... g_djvu.txt ). An expanded version of it, under the encouraging section heading AMERICANIZATION OF ALIENS, reads:
Having started the men to attend the schools on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, from 7:15 to 9:00 p.m., the problem is to see that they do not quit or get discouraged. On the last school night of each week the teacher will give each man a card showing his record of attendance for that week. The men should bring these cards to work with them and drop them in a special night school box which should be placed at the gate through which the men enter and leave the plant. You already have your roll made up when you make your survey. Now the cards in the box should be collected and used to mark your roll. When the roll shows that any one of your men has not been at school for a period of two weeks, this should be reported to the foreman under whom the man is working. The foreman should in a friendly and sympathetic manner urge the man to make an effort to attend the free public night schools and learn to speak English and to become an American citizen. This personal contact will stimulate regularity of attendance and promote a better understanding between employer and employee.
This was back in the days when it did not take a minimum of seven years to obtain American citizenship. ;-)

Many thanks to all who provided their insights or research, or both.
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Re: school night

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:16 pm

aaa
Wizard of Oz wrote:.. this term is used in Aus and is not recent .. both myself and my beloved can remember being beaten down about it being a school night, so that takes it back to at least the 60's .. .. and it is definitely NOT rare as suggested by the OED
Wiz and Erik, Some clarification: The OED provides two definitions for school night, (a) and (b). I thought that it was clear, but I guess not, that definition (a) refers to school taught at night, night school, as opposed to school taught in the day, and that the night school usage is now rare. In my note, definition (b) is what I called the ‘modern’ definition and I said that I thought that this definition referred to the 1931 quote on, which would leave the 1772, 1852, and 1920 quotes for definition (a). Sorry for any confusion. (>:)
______________________

Ken – February 12, 2013
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Re: school night

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:23 pm

Ken, I've just reread your original posting, and I see that the mistake was mine in overlooking both your quoted OED explanation at a), as well as your note about the lack of clarity regarding which of its citations apply to which sense of the expression.

Really, I must learn to pay more attention! :-)
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Re: school night

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:44 am

... ooooooops .. sorry Ken ..

WoZ cleaning his glasses
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Re: school night

Post by G.Singh » Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:43 am

I am from India and here is no this type of night school scheduled popular..


as you are saying in Australia and Canada this is too popular..
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Re: school night

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:09 am

I'm sure I've heard my (primary school teacher-)daughter use the term - I'll ask her when she visits us next week. At http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?co ... g=3&share= is a frequency diagram of the historical usage of 'school night' in British English (but it is corpus-biased and doesn't filter out irrelevant hits such as 'went to school night after night'). It does indicate that the usage is four to five times as common in the US (if one checks the corresponding Ngram for the US corpus they offer).
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Re: school night

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:07 am

.. and Ed in one hit you have identified why "ngram" data is at best tertiary data .. and maybe not even that given its lack of suitable filters ..

WoZ wanting precision
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Re: school night

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:25 pm

I find it surprising that at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/school+night Collins is seen to recognise the compound noun, but there is no reference to the AHD so doing. Perhaps it's just a formatting thing.
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Re: school night

Post by tony h » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:45 pm

School nights are in common use in England.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: school night

Post by Bobinwales » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:36 pm

tony h wrote:School nights are in common use in England.
And in Wales.
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Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: school night

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:26 pm

But the Government would like to replace them with academy nights.
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End of topic.
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