halcyon days

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From halcyon, from Latin Alcyone, from Ancient Greek Ἀλκυόνη (Alkuónē), daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. When her husband died in a shipwreck, Alcyone threw herself into the sea whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers). When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it. Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs. These became known as the "halcyon days," when storms do not occur. Today, the term is used to denote a past period that is being remembered for being happy and/or successful.


  • IPA(key): /ˈhælsiːən deɪz/


halcyon days pl (plural only)

  1. Period of calm during the winter, when storms do not occur.
  2. (idiomatic) A period of calm, usually in the past and often nostalgic.
    halcyon days of yore
    halcyon days of youth
    • 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Sixt”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene ii], page 98:
      Expect Saint Martins summer, Halcyon dayes, / Since I haue entred into theſe Warres.
    • c. 1880, Ambrose Bierce, On a Mountain:
      And, by the way, during those halcyon days (the halcyon was there, too, chattering above every creek, as he is all over the world) we fought another battle.
    • 1891, Walt Whitman, “Halcyon Days”, in Leaves of Grass:
      Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all! / The brooding and blissful halcyon days!
    • 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald, chapter 2, in This Side of Paradise, book 1:
      It was a halcyon day, and as they neared the shore and the salt breezes scurried by, he began to picture the ocean and long, level stretches of sand and red roofs over blue sea.
    • 1941, Thomas S. Eliot, “The Dry Salvages”, in Four Quartets:
      And the ragged rock in the restless waters, / Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it; / On a halcyon day it is merely a monument, / In navigable weather is always a seamark / to lay a course by: but in the sombre season / Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.


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