witching hour

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witching hour (plural witching hours)

  1. The hour after midnight, when witches and other supernatural beings were thought to be active, and to which bad luck was ascribed.
    • 1818, John Keats, A Prophecy:
      'Tis the witching hour of night, / Orbed is the moon and bright, / And the stars they glisten, glisten, / Seeming with bright eyes to listen— / ⁠For what listen they?
    • 1960 March, “Sleeping Cars to the West”, in Trains Illustrated, page 173:
      [...] the Penzance train is shown as non-stop to Plymouth in the down direction, but in the up as being prepared to pick up sleeping car passengers at Newton Abbot, Exeter and Taunton (the two last-mentioned at the witching hours of 2.42 and 3.25 a.m.) and also to set down at Reading.
    • 2003, “The Gloaming”, in Hail to the Thief, performed by Radiohead:
      Genie let out of the bottle / It is now the witching hour / Murderers, you're murderers / We are not the same as you
  2. (less common) The hour between 3:00 a.m. and 3:59 a.m., associated with demons. [from late 20th c.]


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