I see matutino and vespertino, meaning morning and afternoon, used to describe parts of the daily schedule in schools and church. They sound very formal.

Are there more words like them to describe the rest of the day? Does madrugada belong in the same set? Where does this usage come from?


2 Answers 2


These seem to be the Spanish equivalent of the "Canonical hours", specifically Matins and Vespers.

I had to look it up on Wikipedia to find the name after a hunch that it sounded like the divisions of the day of the monks in Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose.

So yes there is at least one more word like them, Lauds.

Well that's the English versions, so let's follow the link to the Spanish Wikipedia article, "Horas canónicas". Here we find this longer list:

  • Maitines: medianoche
  • Laudes: al amanecer, habitualmente sobre las 3:00
  • Prima: Primera hora después de salir el sol, aproximadamente las 6:00 de la mañana
  • Tercia: Tercera hora después de salir el sol, las 9:00
  • Sexta: mediodía, a las 12:00
  • Nona: sobre las 15:00
  • Vísperas: tras la puesta de sol, habitualmente sobre las 18:00
  • Completas: antes del descanso nocturno, las 21:00

Obviously the names don't match exactly but as Diego says the forms you gave were adjectival forms, Matutino = Maitines and Vespertino = Vísperas. It seems to make sense.


Matutino and vespertino are adjectives. Nocturno belongs in the same set, madrugada does not.

They are sometimes used alone, but that's because the noun is being left out. In the case of the church, they may be referring to "servicio matutino"; in the school it may be "turno matutino".

Another common usage in that regard is to refer to daily newspapers.


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