What Time Is Considered Late Afternoon?

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What time is late afternoon — or, more precisely, what is late afternoon? Strangely, there’s no standard definition of what is considered late afternoon — though it’s commonly agreed upon that it’s the time of day just before evening. In trying to define that later afternoon time, Oxford Dictionaries has dubbed it the time between noon, or lunchtime, until evening. 

On the other hand, Cambridge Dictionaries Online takes an approach with more specificity and states that afternoon lasts from about noon, or after the midday meal, until about 6 pm — or, depending on the time of year, when the sun begins to go down. In Middle English, the word for afternoon was “aftermete,” which means “after the noon meal.” Nonetheless, given the variations in mealtimes and the time at which sunset occurs, the period of late afternoon is difficult to define. In fact, sometimes the term “late afternoon” is used as a substitute for “evening.”